maandag 20 maart 2017

Mirages and mirrors

If you thought that after trawling the charity shops in search of treasure on Saturday before last, we'd rest our feet on Sunday, well ... you were wrong!

We woke up to a continuation of Saturday's glorious Spring weather. In fact, it was even milder, and the sky a brilliant blue with only the odd little white cloud, so that it would have been silly to spend the day indoors.



Not wanting to venture too far from home, we decided on a walk in one of Antwerp's most interesting parks, Middelheim, which is a mere fifteen minute drive from Dove Cottage.

Middelheim is not just a park, but also an open air museum of sculpture. In fact, it is one of the oldest of its kind in the world, offering a fascinating overview of more than one hundred years of visual arts in a beautiful park setting.


Admission to this original combination of art and nature is free of charge.

Since 1951, a biannual sculpture exhibition had been held in the park until in 1989 a permanent collection was decided on, displaying more than 200 works dotted around the 30-hectare grounds.

In September 2016, the museum even made it into The Guardian's top 10 best sculpture parks in Europe!



We weren't the only ones who were making the most of this sunny Sunday afternoon.

Families were strolling and enjoying the sunshine, the youths with their eyes so firmly glued to their smartphones, it's a wonder they didn't trip up, while other people sat reading or just watching the world go by on the park's lawns or benches.



Chairs sprayed in silver or gold paint are dotted around the park, inviting people to sit down and enjoy the works of art at leisure.

We wandered at will, stopping here and there to soak up the park's delightful juxtapositions of nature and art.







Shall we cross the bridge without a name?

The bridge is a work of art as well.

It was created by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who recycled an existing little bridge for his project, replacing the bridge's original deck with planks that form the contours of his homeland China.










The museum's outdoor depot is an atmospheric place, where temporarily retired sculptures are awaiting their fate. Here, they huddle together, telling each other their stories and reminiscing about the time they were still in their prime.


Not far from the depot, we met this running girl.









Who is she, and what is she running from?

And more to the point, what is she doing in the woods?













By then, our feet were taking us firmly into the direction of the park's hidden gem, the Braem Pavillion.


The stunning white building, appearing like a mirage between the trees, was designed by Renaat Braem, one of Belgium’s best-known 20th century architects, and dates from 1971.


The building's clean curves and lines seem to have grown rather than built, blending organically into the park landscape, and whenever I catch sight of it I'm reminded of houses built in a similar style in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which utterly fascinated me when I was growing up.



It is here that temporary exhibitions are being held and vulnerable items displayed.



The current exhibition, by the artist Roman Signer, who is also a scientist and performer, was so minimalistic that it allowed us to fully admire the pavillion's interior structure.


Walking away from the pavillion, we came across this strange and rather disturbing sculpture, its mirrored shell trapping another sculpture within.



The sculpture's uneven mirrored surfaces are alternately reflecting and distorting its surroundings, while acting as a house of mirrors at the same time.


Here I was caught in a sunbeam, the mirror a prism which intensified its strength and made me quite goggle-eyed!

After a breather on one of the benches, we returned to our car, vowing to return soon for another treasure hunt.

33 opmerkingen:

  1. So much art in one place!! I am very impressed, no wonder it made the Guardian list. X

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    1. And it's right on our doorstep! The perfect place for a Sunday stroll with a difference. xxx

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  2. Other than their lame fashion pages The Guardian certainly have excellent taste. That is one tremendous park, I love all that thought provoking art out in the open for everyone to enjoy. Utterly magical.
    Great photos.
    I want to come over right away! xxx

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    1. We'll give you a guided tour if you ever decide to come over. xxx

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  3. What a lovely sculpture park. I'd hate to be one of the people charged with deciding what has to go.

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    1. I rather like the depot, which is a little out of the way. In fact, I didn't know about it until we did a photoshoot with friends there last June. xxx

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  4. such an interesting place to go for a walk, love all those sculptures and the 70's pavillion!, it looks so organic and modern!
    besos

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    1. Somehow, I'm always drawn to the pavillion. It's the perfect place for outfit photos too ;-) xxx

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  5. What an interesting place! I love the bridge, there's something about standing above the water that delights me. The sculpture within a sculpture looks menacing (and fascinating!)

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    1. I love the bridge too, although its uneven surface doesn't make it easy to cross. xxx

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  6. what a great place such a wonderful marriage of sculpture and nature

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    1. Thanks Kate, it really is quite a magical place. xxx

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  7. You would love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park over here Ann (says she who hasn't been yet.
    The one near you is fabulous and makes for a super day out. I'm loving your coat but I don't need another so you can keep that one haha xxx

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    1. We'll put the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on our list! If we ever make it there, we could go together! Thanks for letting me keep the coat! xxx

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  8. Middelheim looks absolutely fascinating! I would love to visit it. I like all the mystery of it!xx

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    1. It's wonderful how you keep coming across works of art at every turn. I love seeing what they are called, which could be the subject for another post! xxx

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  9. The park is a lovely place for a sunny day out. I like the combination of art and nature, it was an interesting tour! The last statue is stunning...

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    1. Thank you Dan. I'm loving that sculpture too, as it has so many aspects. It must be rather new, as I cannot seem to find much information on it. I forgot to note who's the artist and what it is called. xxx

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  10. That's a fascinating place. 'Middelheim' sounds like somewhere from Norse myth, where Elves live.

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    1. I'm quite sure Elves do live there! On the other hand, it could be the name of a Scandi-style crime series ... xxx

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  11. That is one amazing place - I love the running girl statue, its beautiful.

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    1. The running girl statue (it is actually called "Lopend Meisje", which is Flemish for running girl!) is quite captivating! xxx

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  12. What a great park to have on your doorstep. There are some fascinating sculptures and I love the building too, I really like mid century architecture. Lovely sunny photos, it's still raining here! Xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally. I have always been a fan of mid century architecture too! Haven't had any rain here since last Sunday, yay! xxx

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  13. What a great park to have on your doorstep. There are some fascinating sculptures and I love the building too, I really like mid century architecture. Lovely sunny photos, it's still raining here! Xxx

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  14. love the little straw decked kiosk!
    and of cause the braem building - just beautiful. seems like you had a perfect sunday afternoon - mild sunny weather, lush nature and lots of gorgeous art! did you bring a picknick?
    your mix of bias tartan and mille fleurs is very chic!
    huge hugs! xxxxx

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    1. That little thatched kiosk is very cute, isn't it. It has recently been restored, and I have to sit on one of the little benches every time we're there! I know you love the Braem Pavillion, and so do I! We didn't take a picnic this time, as we only went for an afternoon stroll. xxx

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  15. A captivating park indeed, it reminds me of the Cass Foundation in Sussex. (did you visit.. it's not far from Parham House?) I love the girl who seems to be fleeing from something... or someone and the building itself is intriguing. Your lovely coat reminds me of one my mum wore in the 50's. Isn't it fabulous to see the sun! xx

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    1. I didn't know about the Cass Foundation, but I've just had a look at their website, and I'm wondering how it could have escaped my attention. It actually has quite a few artists in common with Middelheim. It'll be on our list if we ever come to Sussex again. xxx P.S. It's not in The Guardian's top 10, though ;-) Oops!

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  16. Such a fascinating place! I love the, um 'thing' at the top of the post, what is that exactly, or is it just itself! It's lovely anyway xxx

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    1. The "thing" has a very posh French name, Aubette. Isn't that utterly lovely? It used to be a park keeper's kiosk. xxx

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  17. What a fabulous park! I love the sculpture at the top of the woman lying down (or is she swimming?). She defies gravity! xx

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    1. I always thought of her as swimming, maybe because she was placed in front of the water? I'll have to look up the artist, and see what his intentions were ... xxx

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