Freddy Thielemans, Mayor of the City of Brussels,
President of the Brussels Flower Carpet organisation
Flower Carpet 2012: Africa honoured at the Grand-Place of BrusselsCome and admire the Flower Carpet in the Grand-Place in Brussels on 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 August 2012. From 9 am to 11 pm: a panoramic view from the balcony of the Hotel de Ville (except for Sunday 19, closure at 6 pm). Every evening at 10.00 pm, 10.30 pm and 11.00 pm: sound and light.
The begonias are travelling!This summer, you will have the chance to escape to faraway lands, while staying at the heart of our capital city. No need for any philtre or strange potion to get there... The magic will work on its own and when you visit the Grand-Place, you will be transported to the centre of a mysterious continent: Africa! An extraordinary tapestry of shimmering patterns recalling designs from the tribes of Ethiopia, Congo, Nigeria, Botswana, and Cameroun, a harmonious fusion which will carry you away for a magnificent trip. Such a breath-taking result takes months of preparation. Landscape architects, technicians and hundreds of voluntary participants, colour specialists for the occasion, took part in this most unusual adventure. This extraordinary weaving of begonias will be exhibited during 5 long days. A mad challenge for an unforgettable event, which you will be able to admire from the Grand-Place or the balconies of the town Hall. All roads lead to this multicoloured rendezvous...
Why Africa?This part of the world stands out for the extraordinary diversity of its populations, its landscapes, its cultures and its colours. It has the power to make us dream to the rhythm of its dances, its drums and its performing arts, reflecting age old traditions. And so past and present echo one another, as do the here and the elsewhere, old Europe and young Africa, permanent contrasts. The continent has lessons of life to offer and proposes other perspectives and alternatives to the systems that we have used for so long. It is this diversity, so rich and inspiring, that we want to honour and represent this year: a carpet of flowers, of course, but enriched with an even more enchanting palette. Our artists have combined the begonias with barks, precious materials, sands, soils and pigments... Come and walk along its borders, wander around the equator of our city. Enjoy recognising the origins of the beautiful patterns which make up this strange fabric that unfolds before your eyes. It is very pleasant to walk along the "Africa 2012" carpet and to experience the perfumes and colours close-up. But there is so much more to say of having a panoramic aerial view of it from the City Hall balcony. For this occasion, it will be adorned with thousands of anthuriums, or "flamingo flowers" that have come from all over the world and in particular, from South America, to emblazon the lace of the façade and balustrade. The spectacle of the entire Grand-Place with its exceptional Gothic architecture and ephemeral and sparkling carpet will be offered to the amazed eyes of its visitors every day, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. From above, the privileged visitors will experience memorable moments where each of them, according to his or her culture and imagination, will experience the past and present, here and elsewhere, our old Europe and young Africa, toys of an ephemeral vision.
Admission is EUR 5.00. Children under the age of 12 can enter free of charge.
Let the music play!Last, but not least, of the surprises: the inauguration concert will be as wonderful as the magnificence of the carpet and its inspiration: Africa. On stage this year: Tuur Florizoone with his group Mixtuur, who will add his range of acoustics to the range of colours and materials and will cause our peaceful Grand-Place to undergo a metamorphosis to rise to the occasion and will vibrate, sound and resound.
The Flower Carpet: Instructions for useTwo years of patience and preparation for 4 days of magic in colour… that’s how long it takes to design and weave the Brussels Flower Carpet. In this millennial city, patience is a sound value; the stones have all the time in the world. A theme has to be chosen, then the project must be designed and assessed, and then the number of begonias must be grown, taking due account of the colours. Nearly 600.000 flowers would be needed, arranged tightly against each other to create the patterns, and confer relief and nuance on this carpet that has no rival on the planet. To produce these patterns, the “life-size” design of the carpet will be put on a transparent, micro-perforated plastic sheet. The 120 motivated volunteers will then have an extremely delicate task: they will have to “colour” this giant album by taking into account the nuances of begonias and by keeping them very close to each other. They will thus create a microclimate of constant humidity that will guarantee the freshness and variations of colours of these typically Belgian plants. All this work will be carried out in 48 hours in order to roll out the flower carpet for the inauguration planned on 14 August at 8:30 PM on the dot. This ephemeral masterpiece will be exhibited for all to enjoy exceptionally for five nights and 5 days. As every year, visitors will be able to admire the entire flower carpet from a slight height: the balcony of the Town Hall.
Anthurium: the floral art prima donnaYour visit starts in the City Hall where you will discover and admire halls, rooms and suites, some rarely open to the public. This year you will walk to the balcony among a splendid flower ornamentation, an extraordinary profusion of anthuriums displayed in their diverse varieties to dazzle your sight. This enchantment has been designed for you by Omer Wauman from Temse, the first teacher of Daniel Ost, the reputed master in floral art. The anthurium, an exotic flower native to South America, is a persistent plant with an exceptionally long-lasting flowering time and remarkable ornamental qualities - although the varieties that you admire can no longer be compared to the original flower. L.V. AnthurMiddendorp, the horticultural company that cultivates anthuriums with knowledge and care, is unique in its genre in Belgium. Founded in 1978, located in Veltem-Beisem near Leuven, it grew and developed in 2008 to become an ultra-modern company: its 60.000m2 glasshouses range within the top 5 of the European Union. There, the plants are computer-assisted watered and nebulized ; they are maintained at their ideal temperature of approximately 25 degrees and nourished with the right amount of liquid fertilizer thanks to sensors measuring their exact needs. The L.V. AnthurMiddendorp Company is affiliated to MPS (Milieu Project Sierteelt), an internationally renowned organization defining strict criteria for environmental protection and promoting the use of biological technologies. Deeply concerned with energy-saving, the company opted for gas heating instead of fuel oil and also considerably reduced the use of insecticides thanks to insect lamps. L.V. AnthurMiddendorp does not release any nitrates in the soil since the water pumped for watering is recollected. Double-glazed side windows help maintain the temperature in the glasshouses, together with a high up positioned double energy screen that slides automatically when necessary. L.V. AnthurMiddendorp is still in full expansion and resolutely turned towards a European future: its glasshouses presently shelter 1.200.000 flowering anthuriums. The company employs around 20 people to take care of the plants, trim leaves and cut flowers, sort them, control their quality, pack and ship them worldwide. With state-of-the-art horticulture, L.V. AnthurMiddendorp produces an assortment of 20 varieties selected for color, perfect calibration and astonishing inflorescence longevity. Available in a wide shape and color palette, anthuriums are the ideal cut-flowers for a long lasting and prestigious decoration. www.anthur-middendorp.be - Ronny Middendorp
The opening showThe Belgian-African musical group Mixtuur – twelve musicians from Africa and Belgium led by Tuur Florizoone – is presenting a selection from its repertoire for the opening of the Brussels' Flower Carpet 2012. The accordion player, pianist and composer, Tuur Florizoone, became a household name with his soundtrack of the film “Aanrijding in Moscou”. With Mixtuur he throws you in a mixed salad of cultures, styles and instruments. His compositions were written following 50 years of Congolese independence in 2010 as a tribute to the Congolese bastard children of white fathers and black mothers who ended up in silence to be brought up in Belgian foster families. Mixtuur is a blend of the best that Africa and Europe have to offer. The result is a combination of jazz, world music, traditional Congolese polyphony and profundities from Brussels. Mixtuur is a production of Trefpunt vzw. Website: www.tuurflorizoone.be
The Flower Carpet: agendaAugust 14 2012: day for the press – day of construction From 9 am Possibility to interview the organizers (on appointment) 1 pm The first flowers are set by around 100 people 2 pm “Press” opening at the City Hall and possibility to watch the Flower Carpet during the realisation. Possibility to interview the workers. 8:30 pm Official inauguration at the “Maison du Roi” and the City Hall (entrance only by showing the invitation paper). 10 pm Fireworks and concert 11 pm Closure
August 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 2012: opening for the public Every night at 10, 10.30 and 11 pm : sound and light From 9 am till 11 pm (except for Sunday 19, till 6 pm): Opening of Town Hall : the balcony is opened for the visitors, panoramic view : €5, children younger than 12 enter for free More information on: www.flowercarpet.be
A brief history of the Flower CarpetOfficially, the first Flower Carpet as its present-day form was created in 1971 on the Grand-Place by the landscape architect E. Stautemas, but, in fact, it was the culmination of a whole series created in various towns in Flanders. E. Stautemas, who was born in Zottegem, and graduated from the Ghent Horticultural College, had been experimenting since the early 50's making simple small carpets, more like rugs, mainly consisting of begonias (in Knokke, Oudenaarde, Sint-Niklaas, Lille…). He very quickly realised that floral carpets would be an excellent vehicle for the promotion of his beloved begonias which he had always worked with, both technically, economically and aesthetically. After years of attempts and calculations, this architect, who was inventive and imaginative, and knew how to make the most of the numerous resources of begonias, became an expert in the creation of superb floral carpets with sophisticated colors and complicated designs. His fame spread and he was asked to make carpets not only in Belgium (Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Ypres, Courtrai, Hasselt, Tongres, Mons, Durbuy…) but worldwide (Cologne, Hamburg, Luxemburg, Paris, London, Breda, Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Valencia, and as far afield as Buenos Aires and Colombus, Ohio). Since his disappearance, the landscape architect Mark Schautteet has taken over with talent. The carpets of Brussels’ lace and the Gardens of Versailles have enchanted thousands of visitors since the year 2000. Some of these carpets were bigger than the ones created in Brussels (77 x 24 m), like the 1973 masterpiece at Sint-Pietersplein, Ghent that reached a gigantic 164 x 42 m. However, as E. Stautemas himself says: "Nowhere is the carpet more beautiful and distinguished than in the unique, ancient surroundings of the Grand-Place in Brussels."
Themes of the carpets 1971: 1st Flower Carpet in Brussels: a garden 1976: Year of the Landscapes, Parks and Gardens 1979: Brussels Millenium 1980: Celebration of Belgium's 150 anniversary 1986: Coat of Arms of the City of Brussels 1988: A Chinese Carpet, inspired by the carpets of the Chinese province of Sinkiang 1990: Year of Mozart 1992: Brussels, Capital of Europe 1994: 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Brussels 1996: A garden "à la française" 1998: A carpet inspired by the semi-nomadic tribes living today in NE of Turkey 2000: Brussels' lace 2002: Versailles 2004: Art Nouveau 2006: Middle Ages 2008: Savonnerie 2010: Europe 2012: The African continent