The origins of the village of Champion go back to the Gallo-Roman period. In 1836, a classical-style castle was bought by the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence to create an important school. From the second half of the 19th century, the school housed a painting and drawing workshop, exclusively for women, intended in particular for the artistic training of future teachers who lived there as boarders.
The school is surrounded by a park in the English landscape style, which is a source of inspiration. Today, this park retains its 19th century charm and many heritage features. The school, which today has 2,500 pupils, continues to structure the village centre. The village is offering a wealth of varied atmospheres, contrasts between an environment that has remained rural and the nearby urban world…
Since 2017, the international contemporary art biennial In Champion has taken over many of the village’s emblematic locations.
The Villa Josa is the headquarters of the non-profit organisation Lieux-Communs and is a former Belle Epoque hotel restaurant listed in the Walloon heritage inventory. It contains art nouveau furniture by the Belgian architect and decorator Gustave Serrurier-Bovy.
The winner of the open-air painting prize Par un beau jour, organised every two years, exhibits his or her paintings there. The title of the prize is inspired by Victor Hugo’s travel reports in Belgium in 1839.
A Euroart residency has been launched in 2023 to welcome every year an artist who works on the notions of territory and landscape. A solo exhibition at the gallery of Villa Josa concludes the residency.
In keeping with the history of the site and looking at the evolution of ecosystems, the aim is to build an innovative and contemporary form of residence and artists’ colony in Champion.
Two of the most famous artists of the region, Evelyne Axell and Félicien Rops, questioned the relationship to intimacy, desire, pleasure… As part of this tradition, every two years, an exhibition Fruit Défendu, the title of a painting by Evelyne Axell, revisits these themes in a contemporary way.
In addition to the temporary works presented during the exhibitions, a permanent artistic network has been created with, to date, the works of artists Julie Digard, Sophie Le Grand, Florence Lenain, Ludovic Mennesson, Pascale Marthine Tayou… Through this stroll in the village at the pace of contemporary art, the ambition is to make Champion an open-air arts district.