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Elaborate Mexican design for Brussels' Flower Carpet this August

11:22 20/05/2018

The flower carpet on the Grand-Place is the most reproduced image of Brussels around the world. In fact, many tourists come to Brussels expecting to see it all year round - but the truth is that they will only get to see it for four days every two years.

This summer, the flower carpet will be back from 16-19 August - 1,800m² filled with more than half a million flowers, mostly begonias. But some things will be different this year - it’s the first Latin American carpet, it’s the most complicated design ever, and, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Unesco recognition of the Grand-Place as a world heritage site, there will be a second carpet in front of the Bourse.

The country of honour this year is Mexico and more particularly the State of Guanajuato and the town of Uriangato, a town with a history of street carpets, but of coloured sawdust rather than flowers, honouring Uriangato’s patron saint who happens to also be Brussels’ patron saint, the Archangel Michael.

The carpet’s designer, Uriangato native Ana Rosa Aguilar Aguado, who goes by her artistic name Roo, based her design on the three native cultures of Uriangato. There are three suns, a parrot from the Otomi culture surrounded by flowers which represents the diversity of the fauna and flora of Mexico, and a typical blue and white ceramic platter from Talavera which represents the great diversity in Mexican cooking.

There are numerous other elements: sacred bonfires, frogs, lanterns, warriors, representations of Saint Michael of Uriangato and Saint Michael of Brussels and more.

'Technical challenge'

The elaborateness of the design has presented the flower carpet makers with an extra technical challenge. Richard Poncin, chief executive of the non-profit association Tapis de Fleurs explains: "The typical thing about choosing the theme of the design of the carpet each year is that we ask a designer of the country we are working with to make the original design, which is then transformed by our official designer Marc Schauteet into a workable design.

"There are rules we need to follow. For instance, you have to respect some colours, because some colours don’t exist in flowers. In order to make a line with flowers you need to respect some measurements.

"Normally we use a minimum of 20cm between two colors but this year especially for this special Mexican carpet we reduced these measurements to 12cm which is really a technical challenge for us, so we will be very exited to put the carpet here in August on the Grand-Place and see the definitive design when the carpet is fully laid."

Flower Carpet

In another new feature, Roo will be returning to Brussels with Uriangato street carpetmakers who will join the Belgian volunteers in August to make the carpet.

The international commission of carpetmakers of ephemeral art will be sending dozens of carpetmakers from Spain, Italy, Germany, Malta, Japan and Mexico who will be joined by a group of Belgian children to create another flower carpet entitled Monuments of Unesco in Flowers. Each group will create a small carpet of a particular Unesco monument all of which will be displayed together as one carpet in front of the Bourse. They will all be working in their own styles and adding to the flowers with other natural materials.

Carpet construction on the Grand-Place, Thursday 16 August 5.00-12.00
Inauguration, 16 August 22.00
Bourse carpet construction, 17 August 8.00-15.00
Last sound and light show, 19 August 22.30

Written by Richard Harris