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Stib places Toots Thielemans tribute at Lemonnier tram station

10:28 08/09/2023

A gigantic work of art that pays tribute to jazz legend Toots Thielemans will make its home at the entrance to Lemonnier station in Brussels.

Born in the Belgian capital, Thielemans was famous for playing the chromatic harmonica. The work of art pays homage to the elevation historians say he gave the humble instrument by taking on its form in massive proportions.

Brussels transit company Stib sponsoring the work of art, RTBF reports, which stands seven metres tall and weighs 400 kilos.

The stainless steel work by artist Alain de Pierpont was commissioned by the Stib to celebrate Thielemans, who died in 2016.

It was originally supposed to be hung on the façade of the building at Bouleard du Midi 63, but Stib was denied permission from the City of Brussels and the Brussels region because the harmonica was too gigantic and it would be too dangerous if it fell.

Stib therefore reviewed its installation and found several options, according to spokeswoman Cindy Arents.

“Hanging the harmonica was the first,” Arents said. “The second was to put it on the ground. As we were refused permission to hang it, we decided to put it down. We looked at where we could put it so that the neighbourhood could benefit from this work of art.”

The installation is not yet complete and there will be no official inauguration, but the work is almost ready.

“We still have to add the lighting,” Arents explained.

“This lighting will enhance the work, especially in the evening. We'll also be installing benches around it. We really want to make this work a meeting place in the neighbourhood. It's now up to the residents to take it over and make it a convivial place.”

Those residents are somewhat divided on the work of art, with some telling RTBF that “it’s beautiful” and others saying it is much too large.

“It looks like it's fallen from the sky,” one resident told the French-language outlet.

“It's huge. I don't know if the area really needs this, with the Boulevard du Midi construction work going on all the time.”

Written by Helen Lyons