Hallo, Mijn Naam is Paul Smith

E-mail to a friend: Have you been to Hasselt yet? I haven’t, but I’d like to see this: Mode Museum Hasselt.

1′ pause.

Reply: We’re going!!! 

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For, if Paul Smith chooses the Flemish city of Hasselt, capital of the Eastern province of Limburg, as the first – and so far only – city on Continental Europe to host his retrospective, thereby putting it high on the fashion map, who are we to argue. Or was it the other way round? Was it Hasselt, through Kenneth Ramaekers the resourceful director of the Fashion Museum, that did the trick?

Either way, ”Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” – a retrospective honouring the iconic British designer – is now open in Hasselt, until 07 June 2015. And, if my reading is correct, its next stop will probably be Singapore. So, if you missed it in London last year, enter coordinates 50°55′N 05°20′E on your GPS, fasten your seat belts and get over to Hasselt fast for your only chance to immerse into the creative, beautiful mind of the multi-talented Mr Smith – without leaving Europe.

You will be rewarded with an extended version of the original held in London, covering the entire surface of Mode Museum, wall to wall.

You will be taken on a trip, beginning with the humble 3 x 3 metres windowless room that served as the First Shop, in 1970.

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You will pause in front of Paul’s Art Wall, his collection of photographs and prints.

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You will walk through a striped maze only to come upon one of his most iconic collaborations.

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You will walk by his first showroom, a bedroom in a Paris hotel where he laid out his first collection consisting of six shirts, two jumpers and two suits; only one person turned up but he placed an order, kickstarting Paul’s career.

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You will step inside Paul’s Head.

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You will pay a Tribute to his wife Pauline, because without her, none of this would have happened.

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You will NOT want to leave the Design Studio, where all the creative ideas, references, prints, clothing and fabric patterns are developed into objects of desire.

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You WILL want to try on those impeccably cut florals and prints or some of the ”classic with a twist” blazers from the hanging racks.

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Accessorise them with a watch.

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And then, all buttoned-up and striking a pose…

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You will gasp in awe at this sight – but don’t even try to find an empty spot in the beautiful mess that is Paul’s office!

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Dear Mr Paul,
Hello, My name is Hiroko Sugimura
I’m studying about cloth making
And, I like your cloth design, spirit and your face…

***

Hallo, Mijn Naam is Paul Smith, Mode Museum Hasselt (MMH), until 07 June 2015

Shared credits for  images (Lia & Konstantinos)

Hasselt, 22 February 2015

WIELS Contemporary Art Centre

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Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s latest choreographed exhibition – Work/Travail/Arbeid – is taking place at WIELS, Brussels’ leading contemporary art institution. There could not have been a more fitting space for this project, except maybe Rosas’ own Performance Space, a few hundred metres down the street.

A rare example of modernist industrial architecture in Brussels, built in 1930 by architect Adrien Blomme, its history is inextricably connected with one of Brussels’ most prominent families – the Wielemans-Ceuppens – who made their name and fortune producing one Belgium’s best known products: beer.

It was 1879 and business was booming at the Riche-Soyez brewery, by then having already been ten years in operation. It was right in the city centre, on rue Terre Neuve, close to the most beautiful square in Europe, the Grand Place and, coincidentally, just a few metres from the old townhouse where I lived when I first came to Brussels, in a charming attic studio – top floor, no lift.

When Riche-Soyez reached peak capacity and could no longer be expanded in the cramped city centre, the Wielemans brothers bought a large property in what was then the countryside of Forest/Vorst. Today, Forest is one of Brussels’ southern municipalities, urbanised yet still quite green.

The brothers built their new brewery fitting it out with a mash tun, four steam boilers, a meal oven, tuns for boiling and storage, and warehouses. They linked the factory to the railroad and the business, now named Wielemans-Ceuppens (the brothers kept the second surname in honour of their mother, Ida Ceuppens) flourished still.

In 1930, responding to demand and technological advances, further expansion became necessary. A new brew hall was built, making Wielemans-Ceuppens the largest brewery in Europe. This is the building we know today as WIELS.

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The brewery prospered until WWII, when production was hit by shortages of raw materials and a decree imposed by the German occupation which limited alcohol content to 0,8°, a heavy blow to a country where any beer under 5° is considered ”light”. This limitation gave birth to a new beverage, nicknamed with disdain ”fluitjesbier”, Flemish for pennywhistle, otherwise: weak, watery and tasteless beer.

The factory was quick to market it under the brand name ”Wiels” but, it goes without saying, the ”fluitjesbier” didn’t catch on and production kept declining. Unable to recover, it eventually stopped in 1988 and a long history of more than a hundred years came to an end.

The building remained closed throughout the nineties while its ownership was changing hands and its future use debated, until Brussels Capital Region became the new landlord in 2001. Plans for restoration were quickly put into action and WIELS Contemporary Art Centre was  born in 2007.

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Its vast former brewing hall now houses a cool café and a bookshop – both accessible independently of exhibitions – alongside some of the original brewery’s copper vats. Beyond the ticket booth, the exhibition space spreads over four levels. High-ceilinged rooms, bathed in white and filled with natural light, as if their post-industrial structure was made to enhance the avant-garde character of contemporary art.

Take a look inside, but let us do take the stairs as the concrete staircase is every bit as remarkable as the main rooms:

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Images mainly by Konstantinos Implikian from past and current exhibitions.

WIELS, Contemporary Art Centre
Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354
1190 Brussels

Work/Travail/Arbeid, by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker takes her Vortex Temporum, an intense spiraling movement-and-sound choreography to Gérard Grisey’s eponymous music, and reimagines it expanding over time and into the contemporary art space of Wiels.

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For Work/Travail/Arbeid, dancers from De Keersmaeker’s company Rosas swirl, and musicians from the contemporary music ensemble Ictus play among – rather than in front of – spectators who move in and out of the exhibition space freely. A continuous flow of energy unfolding throughout Wiels’ opening hours.

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Performed live over nine weeks, evolving every hour of every day; an extraordinary exhibition.

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Choreographed in De Keersmaeker’s signature circular patterns, with exhaustively rehearsed, precisely calculated yet fluid moves, mastered to appear free and effortless – almost improvised.

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Watching them had me thinking that, sometimes, running in circles can be a good thing.

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Work/Travail/Arbeid runs until 17 May, 2015

WIELS, Contemporary Art Centre
Brussels

Visited on 4 April 2015

Photos by Konstantinos Implikian

Bluebell(e)s

With my back firmly turned on the Greenhouses of Laeken in the North, I could hardly wait to make my way to Halle’s Wood (Hallerbos in Flemish – Bois de Halle in French), in the South. Hallerbos, once part of the vast Sonian Forest, consists mainly of Beech trees, walking and horse riding dirt paths.

But every spring, during the last weeks of April, it is transformed into an enchanted forest as if out of a fairytale. For, as far as the eye can see, it is dressed in a magnificent purple-shaded cape, a flowerbed of countless wild bluebells. And on sunny days, it is sprinkled with tiny white anemones that help bring out the purple blue in all its radiant glory.

Sublime!

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The bluebells are now in full bloom, at its peak all next week. If you are around, this is the one walk you have to take.

The Hallerbos website includes everything you need to know, including flowering seasons.