Thursday, 9 June 2011

Brussels - Buildings, Lace & Things

Lillian : There are lots of lovely Art Nouveau style buildings in Brussels with beautiful lead-light windows, fancy iron-work and wonderful 'sgraffito'.
Audrey : We saw lots and lots including the gorgeous Cauchie House but most of the photos disappeared from the digital camera - and our people were very upset!
Lillian : Yes, we only have a few photos to show everyone and these are not the most famous buildings ...
Audrey : But it does pwove that there are lots of lovely buildings and it is very worth while to go exploring awound Bwussels.
Lillian : Yes, hop on a tram ... and remember to look up!

Audrey : Is that the scratchy graffiti stuff ALL over that building?
Lillian : They call it 'sgaffito' the design is 'scratched' or incised into wet mortar I think and then painted, often with lots of gold ...
Audrey : Sometimes it isn't painted ...

Audrey : Though I think I'd like to colour in those pwetty flowers.
Lillian : Those are 'MacIntosh' roses Audrey, another very popular Art Nouveau motif in Brussels is the Ginkgo leaf - sometimes in ironwork balconies like this -
Audrey : What about owls - are they a popular Art Nouveau motif too?
Lillian :  I'm not sure, owls aren't very sinuous or elegant but Les Hiboux (The Owls) building is very sweet.   Here are some of Les Hiboux

Audrey : It is nice when the buildings are cared for - remember the shop with the awful yellow paint?
Lillian : It was rather nasty ...
Audrey : But our stylist loved this lady - she was up the top of a building and the photo is not very clear but the lady has a stick with thwead on it.

Lillian : A distaff - used when spinning fibre.  She could be the goddess Frigg / Frigga (we've named Friday after her) or perhaps she is Clotho.  One of the 'three fates', Clotho spins the threads of human's lives  ....   I love the oak tree, perhaps it is a hint as to that lady's identity.

Audrey : Talking about twees - remember the extremely espaliered trees in the big park?

Lillian : Yes - Parc Royale - I guess the trees look better in summer when all their leaves are on.
Audrey : There is a very big fountain and lots of fun statues in that park / parc.
Audrey : He looked like a nice, eligible young man - very capable of bringing home the bacon!
Lillian : Looks like he is doing just that Audrey.  This chap has a big fish which is trying to eat a glove!

Audrey : And these plump babies have been telling each other silly jokes!

Lillian : Well - we can't leave Brussels and Belgium without talking about lace.
Audrey : Belgium is famous for lace - as well as for chocolate.
Lillian : The Costume & Lace Museum in Brussels and the Kantcentrum in Brugge are just wonderful.
Audrey : At the Kantcentrum you can see people making lace - with hundweds & hundweds of bobbins ...
Lillian : Yes - they have 'demonstrations' and one lady in particular was really fast.
Audrey : Oh she was amazing!  The thread was like spider's web and her bobbins were just flying!
Lillian : She was working with silk thread and I think she was making Binche lace - it was very beautiful.  Not much of the lace for sale in the shops is actually hand-made though some shops have lovely antique pieces in their windows, like these ...

Lillian : Isn't that just gorgeous!  And here is a close up - it is Rosaline lace, very distinctive with those little raised circles.

Audrey : Lovely and delicate - but what a lot of work to make it!  Amazing!

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