Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Down the rabbit hole

Although the date above this post mentions Wednesday, 28 August, its subject is actually what we did more than two weeks ago, on Sunday, 11 August.

Now that I have finished my travelogue, I can finally catch up on what else has been happening in my life and - obviously - what I have been wearing. I have to be quick though, as by the end of this week it'll be September and we'll be off on a another little trip, gathering a fresh batch of stories to tell.

So, without further ado, let's dive in and see what we have been up to that Sunday!


"Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"

And while I wasn't about to follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, I checked my watch before tiptoeing along this avenue of clock-sporting trees.

The clocks are part of an exhibition in Antwerp's Middelheim museum by artist Ria Pacquée, called “They are looking at us, we are looking at them”.

This particular installation is called "The sun is moving, the clock ticking, the earth sinking". The message is that nobody can escape time, not even in the woods!



Now that is a subject that has been occupying my mind. I'm forever trying to shake off that cloak of nostalgia which like a birth mark has become part of me. 

Alice: "How long is forever?"
White Rabbit: "Sometimes, just one second."

No matter how hard I keep trying to escape time, it is obvious that I never will. But I can at least look reasonably stylish while I'm doing so.

Here's a closer look at the vintage skirt suit I'm wearing and which has been a wardrobe stalwart ever since I picked it up in a charity shop in 2015. I pinned my peacock brooch from Llangollen to it and wore two bracelets to compliment the suit's colour scheme.

My outfit was completed by a red belt and my red Clarks Cloudsteppers. On my arm, my blue crocheted handbag, whch is actually made of some kind of plastic. I had also brought my flower sprinkled denim jacket, but it turned out to be too warm for it.


Accidentally, I already divulged our destination for the day, Middelheim, which is an amazing open-air museum of sculpture and art set within a 30-acre park on the outskirts of Antwerp.

Our visit was a last minute decision made in the early afternoon, when it was safe to surmise that the weather gods would be holding off any threat of rain for the day.

Due to the lateness of the hour, there were no nearby parking spaces available, so we had to park our car a bit further away, around the corner. Walking back towards the park, we took the first entrance we came across, which actually took us to the western reaches of the park, where the museum has gathered some of its painted metal sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s.


The art installation behind me is a later one, dating from 2009. It is called "Beam Drop Antwerp" and is by US performance artist Chris Burden. You can see it in full in the above collage. Apparently, it was created by pouring liquid concrete into a pit, after which 100 steel beams were dropped into the ground from a height of 45 metres using cranes and the force of gravity. 


Jos looks quite at home between the two sections of "Double Progression Vert et Blanc". Dating from 1969, its creator is Venezuelan artist Jésus Rafael Soto.


Consisting of eight separate elements in black, green, orange and yellow, this group of sculptures by Jorge Dubon (Mexico), and dating from 1971, is called Bosque Metalica (or Wood of Metal).



The orange and green elements matched my outfit almost exactly, so that for one moment I became part of this work of art.


This part of the museum also houses its open-air storage, where some of the sculptures needing restorations or awaiting a new destinatiosn are on display. 

Here I drew up a chair for a brief chat with Mozart, Rosetti and Beethoven, who all seemed to have some minor injuries.


Was it a bird or a bullet which disfigured this important looking figure, whom I'm afraid I forgot to ask for his name?


This construction is a mobile container workspace for Compagnie Marius, which has been developing theatre productions since 1991, specializing in outdoor performances.


Entering the main part of the park, some of the sculptures seem to blend organically into the landscape. 

Here, it felt as if I had really fallen down the rabbit hole, meeting all kinds of mad creatures and the odd enigma.

All was peaceful and quiet, apart from the eternal Pokémon hunters colonizing the park, blind for the beauty of art while singling out their virtual prey.

But then we happened to look back, our hearts skipping a beat upon spying a group of menacing figures advancing upon us through the trees.




We took flight into the direction of a mirage on the horizon, the dazzling white wonder of the Braem Pavillion. 

I have waxed lyrical about this stunning building, in which temporary exhibitions are being held, many times before, so I'm just letting my camera do the talking this time.

Opened in 1971, it was designed by Renaat Braem, one of Belgium’s best-known 20th century architects.


Fleeing into the same direction was this rather bewildered looking Running Girl. She seemed a little out of breath, but then again she has been running on the spot since 1977. Turned into bronze, her creator was Czech sculptor Kurt Gebauer.

I forgot to ask her name as well, but I bet she was called Alice. 

Unlike the girl, we managed to escape by crossing The Bridge Without a Name, a work by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.


In Alice's words, it was getting curiouser and curiouser, so before continuing our journey, we took a breather on the terrace of the museum café.

Will this biscuit make me grow or shrink, that is the question. Neither, it seemed, as we crossed the road into the second part of the park unscathed and passed in front of Het Huis (The House), a second exhibition pavillion, which was opened in 2012. 

The formal Hortiflora garden, which used to be part of the neighbouring Nachtegalen Park (Nightingale Park) was also incorporated into the Middelheim museum in 2012.



Finally finding an escape route out of the park, we ended up opposite the entrance of yet another park, Den Brandt, with its romantic castle. Although originally built in 1790, it was renovated in the late classical style in the 1870s.



Although we've been here many times before, this must have been the first time we were able to photograph the castle, and the enchanting fountain in front of it, without groups of people milling about or a car parked in front of it.

And with that, our adventure in Wonderland had come to an end.



35 comments:

  1. Wow this exhibition looks realy like wonderland. Thank you for this trip Alice ...ähm Ann. :)
    Cloudstepper sounds comfortable. They are amazing in red.
    A very huge hug Tina

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    1. Thank you Tina, I loved being Alice for a day. xxx

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  2. I love sculpture parks like that and I love metallic art! Did you choose the outfit to the art? Ha ha, matches perfectly. I'm not sure if I said it before, but we have the Koller Moller museum in the Netherlands. If you are ever visiting our country, you should go there (and have a cup of coffee with me because I live nearby). It has a fabulous sculpture garden!

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    1. I should definitely visit the Kroller Moller museum some time, and of course I'd love to have a cup of coffee with you! xxx

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  3. I wish we had a giant sculpture park like that! Wow, I'm just boggled by the variety and creativity, from the 'drop' art to those creepy figures comin' at you!

    I am in love with your gorgeous skirt suit - what a stunning outfit, Ann!

    You may be excited to hear that we (L and I) will MAYBE be coming to the Netherlands in 2022! One of my friends wants to celebrate her 50th birthday there! You (all the
    Belgian/Dutch/Brits) would definitely be on my itinerary. Anyway, no promises (people are so fickle), but just sayin' it'a MAYBE. :)

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    1. Oh, wouldn't that be exciting Sheila! Keeping my fingers crossed! xxx

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  4. So many wonderful pieces of art, Ann! Your photos are fabulous! I love your vibrant outfit that just happened to match the art perfectly! If only sculptures could talk, hey? I'd love to know what Mozart, Rosetti and Beethoven chatted to you about! Haha ;) How great to get such a gorgeous (and unhindered)shot of the castle too! Hope you're having a great week so far, Ann! XXX

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    1. Thank you Sasha, how serendipitous that my outfit matched the art, wasn't it? xxx

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  5. I wish we had a similar sculpture park here, it looks like such a fun destination! :) I love how your dress matched one of the installations too, so fun!

    Hope that you are having a great week :)

    Away From Blue

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    1. Thank you Mica! It is indeed a fun destination, and as we only live 15 minutes away, one we often visit! xxx

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  6. Ah that suit you're wearing is a classic! And it's true...you did become one with the artwork around you.

    I love how the sculptures blend so easily with the surroundings. What a great spot to spend some time appreciating life.

    The clocks on the trees are straight out of a dream.

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. Thank you Suzanne, I was enchanted by those clocks! xxx

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  7. Hello Ann. Thankyou for taking us with you on your leisurely stroll through this out-door museum. Such amazing sculptures! I especially liked the avenue displaying clocks. It's message rings true for all - no-one escapes time. Absolutely adore your skirt suit! The colours are amazing. Your little blue bag is adorable too. I'm not surprised you both needed to stop and savour the moment with some biscuits at the cafe - 30 acres of park can be draining. Lovely that your afternoon finished with a clear shot of that beautiful castle.

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting again, Suzy! We didn't really do the whole park that time - we try to choose another part each time we visit - but we still needed that cup of coffee ;-) xxx

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  8. that 2-piece is so fabulous - you look gorgeous in it! love how you lean in the matching art!
    when i ever make the way to your little nook of the world you must show me the sculpture park! a venue, fallen out of this mega commercial times....
    happy weekend! and hugs! xxxxxx

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    1. It would certainly be on our itinerary if you ever make it to Antwerp! xxx

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  9. What a lovely museum in the open! This castle is beautiful and the art collection displayed is very impressive. The statues and the art installments are all very original. I love the girl statue by a Czech artist (forgot the name ). I also like your comparison with Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, one of my favourite books for sure. The clock on the tree also makes me think of it. Time never stops....
    I really like your vintage skirt suit and how you belted it with a red belt. The red shoes are lovely as well. I always enjoy red accents:).

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    1. Thank you Ivana! I had a feeling you'd appreciate the Alice connection! xxx

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  10. I really wish we had more of this kind of thing near us, I love a bit of sculpture in the outdoors! 'Double progression' is my favourite I think. I saw your fab dress on Instagram, it's the right colours for the setting I think! xx

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    1. Thank you, it's one of our favourite places to visit! xxx

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  11. You both look very stylish amongst the sculptures in the fantastic museum garden.
    I too suffer from nostalgia at times and funnily enough, only this week I was discussing with someone how unhelpful to wellbeing it is!
    I hope you have a wonderful holiday, we're off on one too, can't wait. xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally! I'm sure it's not very helpful, but I seem to be born with the nostalgia gene ... xxx

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  12. Nice :)

    https://trapeziovermelho.blogspot.com

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  13. What a great excursion. I do love that pavilion; such a great example of something modern (relatively...) and good - people always seem to think 70s architecture is all stained grey concrete, but that's really space-age.

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    1. It's one of my favourite modern buildings. I had a friend who lived in a fabulous 1970s house at the time, and I remember being extremely envious ... xxx

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  14. What a lovely adventure! Reading your post, I noticed I was holding my breath. Between the story of you and Jos going down the rabbit hole and the experience of seeing all that amazing artwork in one place--outside, where you can touch it and pose in front of it!--I was enthralled to the point of breathless. 💕 Can't wait to see where you are off to next!

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    1. I'm glad you loved reading about my adventure in Wonderland. There are notices everywhere that you cannot touch the artworks, but it's so very tempting ... xxx

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  15. That suit is just perfect with your Cloudsteppers! You both look so good in amongst the exhibits that the Belgian Arts Council should issue you a grant for enhancing the exhibition.
    I'm not sure if the mismatched bistro chairs are part of a display or there for weary travellers but I love them against the greenery! xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix, and wouldn't that be great if we were given a grant! Those bistro chairs, sprayed gold and silver, are everywhere in the park to be used by weary travellers! xxx

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  16. We all need longer days! That's why I hate the winter because the days are so short. And where does the time go? xx

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    1. Yes, to longer days, although I do not mind Autumn and Winter, as I think each season has its own charm. xxx

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  17. Loving your outfit, the colors and delightfully matchy accessories!. Love your bag and those comfy&cute shoes!
    Love to see all those details which caught your eye, the landscapes, the stunning pavillion (lovely design) and the romantic castle.
    Love to see Jos looking so dapper!
    besos

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    1. Thank you Monica! And Jos was really chuffed at your last comment ;-) xxx

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