Photo of the week: Flights of fancy


Brussels by Lights offers plenty of opportunities to shake off those lockdown winter blues

Lighting up the night

Those mourning the loss of Christmas markets this year, rejoice: Brussels by Lights offers endless opportunities to wander around the centre of the capital and be charmed by light displays and installations.

While the origami birds soaring above our heads in the Sint-Hubertus Galleries are not flashy, they provide the kind of wondrous sophistication the historical shopping arcades demand. One installation is made up of thousands of these colourful designs, while another sees golden birds dangling from above.

The installations are an extension of the Origami for Life project, headed up by Brussels designer Charles Kaisin. He began the project in the spring by teaching people at home during the lockdown how to create origami birds.

Did you make an origami bird? Take along some binoculars to try and spot it

“Through social media channels and helpful media outlets, we showed tutorials on how to fold these origamis,” Kaisin said. “Everyone folded with the paper they wanted, that's why we have these multi-coloured elements.”

Everyone was invited to create either an origami house or a bird. Kaisin: “The house represents confinement, but the bird says that we are still free.”

People were invited to send their birds to Kaisin, who created an installation in the Kanal Centre Pompidou. He got corporations to pledge €5 for every origami design collected, and all the proceeds went to the Erasmus Hospital in Brussels to crate Covid-19 units. The same installation now hangs in the Sint-Hubertus Galleries.

Using just their feet, visitors can make “Trumpet Flowers” play music

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of Brussels by Lights. There are several massive light installations as well, two of them interactive. The 27 metres-high flowers on Fontainasplein sing, with your feet acting as conductor. Over on Muntplein is “Vermell”, eight giant red balls that react to sound and light. Created by Spanish artists, the name means “red” in Catalan.

There are five more creative light installations in four locations: the Oud Korenhuis square, outside the Our Lady of Finisterrae church, on Bloemenhofplein and at the head of Naamsestraat. And of course don’t forget the giant Christmas tree on Grote Markt, as well as the square’s inner courtyard, also filled with Kaisan’s origami birds.

Photos courtesy Brussels-City