In the latter part of the twelfth century the women who became known as “Beguines” began a creative experiment in a new style of living. They were not members of the established religious orders, or convents, although their lifestyles were similar. Beginning in Belgium and the Low Countries, the movement spread along the Rhine, with its numbers peaking at the end of the thirteenth century.
Kames’s interest in the Beguines began in preparation for a 2005 residency at the Frans Masereel Centrum, the Flemish International center for the contemporary printmaking, located in Kasterlee, Belgium. Again in the summer of 2007 Kames was a resident at the Frans Masereel Centrum, when she finalized the format for the Spiritus Suite. Numerous small Beguine communities or “begijnhofs” still exist in the Northern part of Belgium. Although, there are no Beguines still living, their distinctive communal structures have found reuse as museums, cultural centers, student or senior housing. Many remaining begijnhofs are classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Kames visited and documented begijnhofs at Turnhout, Brugges, Antwerp, and Leuven in Belgium. Often the begijnhof took the form of small row houses situated around a central garden and chapel. This architectural plan informed the structure of Spiritus Suite.
Each of the etchings suggests one of the “Seven Stages of Mystical Journey” found in numerous Beguine writings.The individual parts of the print reference Beguine spiritual life as well.