Saturday, 14 February 2015

brussels and ypres .....

Catching up with a few posts about my trip to Belgium and UK last November/December.  Sometimes though when your head is buzzing with the present, it is really hard to go backwards in time to record happy travelling times.  I think these memories cement in the mind but are harder to extricate and record verbally as time passes. This post is about the couple of days in Belgium.

The Northern Hemisphere really knows how 'to do' Christmas.  Brussels and Ypres were awash with Christmas spirit and cheer.  And of course Belgium knows how to do CHOCOLATE.  Yum.  Funnily enough, chocolate addict that I am, it hadn't occurred to me until we were feasting on chocolate  visually through shop window decorations that the penny dropped that I was in Belgium - home of my favourite Belgium chocolate.  Oh gosh all the windows were beautiful .....
and the streets full of shoppers (and no doubt other chocolate lovers) 



decorations and rooftop golds gleaming in the evening light
would love to have some of these Paul Klee cushions - especially that bottom right hand one
We had the two nights in Brussels but our one day in between was spent in Ypres to visit the WW1 14 x 18 Pieces for Peace Exhibition. We arrived mid morning by train from Brussels and the light was still glowing low.  An amazing though very cold time to be visiting the Menin Gate Memorial - dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the area around Ypres in WW1 and whose graves are unknown.



This was a very sobering experience as we realised that each of these names on the wall represented the death of a soldier.   Someone's husband or son, brother or father.  We were both very heavy hearted as we wandered about.  Of the approximately 300,000 soldiers killed in and around Ypres, 90,000 have no known grave.


Ypres is surrounded by city walls - a beautiful way to see the town especially with this extraordinary light.


Before heading to the Exhibition we met up with Saskia Maeyaert who is the lady responsible for the idea of this Exhibition and with a small group, its organisation.  I think meeting Saskia was the highlight of my trip to Belgium - only wish we had more time though she gave up much of hers having lunch and the afternoon with us.  The exhibition was marvellous - beautifully set up as you can see from these photographs and the work of a really high calibre.  We all received very comprehensive catalogues which we will treasure.  There is so much talent out there.



This was my absolute favourite piece and was one of the winners of the bookbinding section of the exhibition.  The work is by Ile Declerck from Belgium.  It is a lead book with transfers of images and texts and I really really want to know how to do this as it is sublime.    I will be writing to her.....


There were dozens and dozens of books to admire and covet, though knowing we had a catalogue, I didn't photograph many,  besides which I was way too entranced.  Some of the calligraphy however led me that dream space where you think that 'if in another life .... you could/should/want to be ...'  Anyway, a calligrapher I am not but these images come pretty close to my ideals of a combination of painting and calligraphy.

Another artist from Belgium - Yves Leterme.


Inge Vos from the Nederlands
And another Belgium artist - Veerle Missiaen.  This, another winning piece,  stretched a few metres across the wall when open and was presented that way. 

13 comments:

  1. Wonderful images and such moving pieces - from great sadness and futility there has come beauty but at what a cost. Will the world ever learn ?
    Diane.xx

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    1. Do you know Diane I think we all hope or pray for Peace ..... but in my heart I very much doubt that this world will ever see it. Maybe in the next?

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  2. How beautiful this looks and how much I would like to have seen it all! So much to think about an marvel at ... Thank you for sharing it with us.

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    1. I was fortunate to be heading over to London at that time and it was my daughter Pip who said we had to head to Ypres en route. I am so glad we made the journey ....

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  3. Wish i could hold those beauties in my hands...............

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    1. Hello Martine - like you, I would dearly have LOVED to be able to handle and examine each page of the remarkable books in this exhibition.

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  4. Lovely shots and memories of Ieper/Ypres - much of the art was stunning, and the town itself makes for a lovely wander...

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    1. It was a special place and time .... x

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  5. Lovely to read this Susan, about your trip to Belgium and the Exhibition. The calligraphic work is of a very high standard - and the lead book beautiful.

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    1. You would have fallen in love with the leaden books - and a few other pieces too Helen. And yes, some really amazing calligraphic pieces too.

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  6. Een schitterend verslag van een waardevolle trip. Bedankt!

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    1. Thanks Marleen. I have already replied to your comment once but it has disappeared so I will try one more ..... I remembered your name as being one of the artist's from Belgium in the book exhibition and have been drooling over your binding, and loving the children's drawings. How I wish I could see more.

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  7. Sorry to be coming over so belatedly for a wander through your last several posts, Susan. I really enjoyed the beautiful photos (and chocolate reminiscences - Belgian chocolate is incredible!). Funny how the travel impressions become more & more difficult to put into words with the passing of time, but at least the general impressions can strengthen retrospectively - and thank goodness for photos & their power to recall certain moments/feelings.
    And what an exhibition! I suppose it's impossible to not feel the weight of the tragedy of war as one visits the Memorial, but the books created in its memory look to be stupendous. Congratulations once again on your thoughtful & beautiful contribution...

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I appreciate your comments - thank you!