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Floral artists let loose on Brussels city hall at Flowertime

23:12 20/07/2019

Brussels' world-famous Flower Carpet only happens every two years. But on alternate years there is Flowertime, a must for anyone interested in architecture and horticulture.

The flower event is a unique opportunity to see 13 of the most beautiful rooms and hallways of the 15th-century architectural masterpiece that is Brussels' city hall enhanced by the work of top florists.

For this fourth edition, the theme is A World of Floral Emotions and the artists are a roster of international florists. The event is a co-production between the city, the organisers of the Brussels Flower Carpet, and the Ghent based Floraliën which has been organising flower shows since 1808.

"The idea for this year’s theme came about because we wanted to bring different cultures together," says Pieter Toebaert, director of the Floraliën festivals. "More than 30 artists – some new to Flowertime and some old hands – will show off the latest floral trends from their own countries: Belarus, China, Indonesia, Japan, Romania, Estonia, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, United States and of course, Belgium. In total, more than 30 florists from 13 countries are taking part in Flowertime."

As always, the flower-lined route will start in the Grand-Place. This year, to access the building, visitors will pass through a flower arch composed of 500 fuchsia plants. And those visitors taking the tour in the evening between 18.00 and 22.00 will be serenaded by the Jose Luis Montiel Moreno trio, who have put together a floral playlist especially for the occasion. Last year, Jose Luis Montiel Moreno composed the soundtrack for that year’s Mexican Flower Carpet sound and light show.

"A Japanese florist will not work the same way as a Belgian florist and a Belgian florist will not work the same way as an American florist," says Toebaert. "Different cultures create different floral expressions. Our role is to build bridges between our organisation and floral artists to make the impossible possible. It’s all about innovating and leaving people amazed."

The florists design the large scale spectacular floral arrangements after careful consideration of the room they have been assigned, filled with antique tapestries, woven at a time when Brussels was the pre-eminent tapestry making city in Europe and one third of the population worked in the industry, the ornately painted ceilings, the elaborately carved woodwork, the remarkable porcelain objects, the marble statues, the opulent floors, so that their arrangements neither overwhelm the setting nor disappear into the setting.

Most of the rooms are the original 15th-entury rooms, others are 18th or 19th-century replacements for the rooms destroyed or damaged in the 1695 French bombardment of Brussels, but all are exquisitely decorated.

Flowertime, 14-18 August, Brussels city hall. Bottom photo: Tom Paulussen / All other photos: Wim Vanmaele. Sorry! Our prize draw has now closed and the winners have been notified.

Written by Richard Harris