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Feature: Flower carpet lightens Brussels amid crisis

08-15-2012 08:25 BJT

By Miao Xiaojuan, Wang Cong

BRUSSELS, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The biennial exhibition of a giant flower carpet has brought thousands of locals and tourists to the Grand Place in the heart of Europe, which is still in the middle of a lingering sovereign debt crisis.

The 1,800-square-meter rectangular carpet was inaugurated by a short-time fireworks display as well as a concert of African and Belgian musicians late on Tuesday night.

For the first time themed on Africa, the carpet was tightly paved with hundreds of thousands of begonias and dahlias in graphic patterns recalling designs from the tribes of Ethiopia, Congo, Nigeria, Botswana and Cameroon.

"Africa is colorful and it offers plenty of choices," said Marc Schautteet, the 63-year-old graphic designer. He spent two months drawing the grand picture, combining 20 colors from 12 different species of begonia, four of dahlia, as well as grass, sand, and tree barks in brown and blue.

The flower carpet was initiated in 1971 by landscape architect E. Stautemas. It was later developed into a biennial event whose normal procedure is to chose a theme, design the graphics, and grow enough flowers with its colors taken into account.

"We are in crisis and many people are worried. That's why we need the flower carpet even more to bring people together and make people smile," said Madeleine Cantaert, a team member.

The exhibition will last until the end of this week, with sound and light shows at night. Visitors may walk around the Grand Place full of Gothic architecture, or take a panoramic view from the balcony of the City Hall, which has been adorned with numerous flamingo flowers.

It's my first time to look at a flower carpet and I like the contrast of the colors. Too bad it only stays for a very short period," said Mike Levy, a 54-year-old tourist from San Francisco in the United States.

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, over a hundred volunteers, mostly local florists and their families from the Flemish region, filled all the blanks on the plastic sheet with flowers and other materials within seven hours. Many brought plastic bumpers to protect their knees from the bricks on the ground.

Hillaere Rottier, a 79-year-old retired florist, is the most experienced volunteer who started in 1974 and has taken it as a lift-time hobby. The eight-year-old Fien Van Hecke is the youngest who came with her parents, as she said, "It's something nice to do, and I like the Grand Place with so many people."

On the balcony of the City Hall, many photographers stood there for hours to record the carpet-making progress. Michel Block, who works for a local newspaper, made his camera automatically take a picture every 18 seconds as he was planning to upload a video story on Youtube.

Annette Katz, the chief organizer who has been responsible for 13 exhibitions for over 20 years, expects the five-day event to attract 100,000 visitors from across the world.

Katz added that the current economic difficulties across Europe also hit the event. "Things are more expensive, fund-raising are harder, and the budget has been cut by over 10 percent," she said.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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