Friday, 30 December 2016

Travel: Notes from Ghent - Blue Birds

If you stand on St. Michael's Bridge in Ghent when it's dark - carefully avoiding getting poleaxed with a selfie-stick or boom mic from the tourists and film crews that seem to a permanent feature of the structure - and gaze to your left past St Michael's Never-Open-Church and Ghent Universities' Het Pand you will see one of the most striking artistic light installations I have ever seen...

View looking towards St. Michael's Bridge
By taking the steps down from the bridge and walking along Predikherenlei you can get a closer look at this master-piece, indeed the view (above) from the bridge on Jakobijnenstraat is probably the best place to appreciate it from, as it takes in St. Michael's Bridge and the beautiful old buildings on Graslei in the background.

It's unimaginatively but accurately called the Blue Birds but its full title is 'Les Oiseaux de Mr Maeterlinck' by the French creative studio Pitaya. It references a story called 'The Blue Bird' by Maurice Maeterlinck - who was born in the city - to commemorate his Nobel Prize for Literature. It was originally a part of Gent's 2012 Light Festival but was then bought by the municipality and is now a permanent installation.

The origami-like birds seem to be frozen in startled flight from their tree, and their reflection in the canal - enhanced by the odd ripple - adds another dimension of movement and depth to the work. They are mesmerising, elegant and vibrant, and perhaps worthy of a trip to Ghent in themselves.

It is stunning ... and I could have looked at it for ages...

But the thoughts of food and imbibing in what is surely Belgium's best city eventually dragged me away...

View from Predikherenlei


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