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Sophia

Interior happiness

Terrazzo

Hello dear readers,

How are you? Back to work?
Slowly getting into another rhythm again, after the lock-down?

We were lucky. After two years of looking for a new coffee-table, ours was eventually delivered a few weeks ago. I loved the design of terrazzo, but it was so hard to choose: colors, patterns. Last year we bought two new chairs – pink! – they’re called Little Tulip and my friend from Homepage helped me choose.

As you know by now, I have a bad allergy for boring interiors – and since I am making confessions here anyway, I might as well tell you I’m allergic to boring people as well. Don’t feel offended, I do not mean you, you wouldn’t be reading my blog if you were boring ūüėČ

Sorry! Still have a hard time to focus (yes, yes, if I was a child now, I would be labelled with ADD) So, back to interior choices. Colors make me happy, flowers too. I like the design of terrazzo a lot. First I wanted more pink in it, but that would have been too much with the chairs. So this type has so many different shades of green, terracotta-pinkish and the base is off-white. It matches perfectly with the rest of our interior. It was a good choice!  The foot is lacquered white. The table is designed by my niece.

We all are very happy with the result. The table matches perfectly with the rest of the interior, a mix of colors, materials and of course all the plants. The living room is finished, cosy and comfy. Decorating is what I love to do.

What do you think?

But! I am not finished with decorating, nono. One of the most fun things to do these past months in lockdown, was scrolling and searching online for ideas and putting them on the Pinterest board of our new project. What is it about? It is again in the tourism business, but here in Belgium. I will do the decorating part, with the help of the family. To be continued ūüėČ

So long, Sophie

PS: a sneak preview


Stories

Locked in

Dear readers,

I really hope you are still in good health.

I first planned to say “I hope you are fine,” but who is fine these days? It is a struggle for all of us, and above all, for the most vulnerable among us–the ones on their own, the elderly, the ones losing their jobs, losing their income, and of course the sick.

I also think about the ones being totally neglected in the news now, as if they disappeared from the globe. The many people stuck in camps in Greece. And also here in the refugee center people are living very close to one another. Difficult to keep social distance.

The job fair I talked to you about last time had to be cancelled the day before the event, so frustrating.

What do you find the most difficult these days?
I think, apart from being sick or without a job, it is hard to not be able to be with your friends or family in a specific situation. One friend just had a baby, another one lost her dad. I cannot go to them and share this joy or grief.

So no projects at the moment for me. And still, the days seem to pass by quickly. I chat a lot, to check on people, and I notice a lot of people check on me. That is such a comforting thought. We send photos and funny videos to each other. Very important: I rediscovered the good old mail. I sent cards and reading stuff to my bunch of newcomers who aren’t allowed to visit us anymore. Thank you postman for the deliveries!

I know I am lucky, being with my family, at home. I have been working outside, planting flowers, making the yard ready for summer. Some photos to make you enjoy spring:

Since I still had different fabrics, in joyful colors, I decided to make some mouth masks. I used old handkerchiefs for the inside since it is material that is soft and can be washed easily. For the outside I used different patterns, but also good quality fabric that can be washed easily. I washed everything before I started – to check whether it could stand high temperatures. When I finished them, I noticed they were still a little too big, so I need to adapt them at the sides ;-).







So let me know how you are feeling, in general? How is the epidemic dealt with, in your country?

Take care!
So long,

Sophie

PS: I wanted to bring Spring inside, my bouquet turned out to be huge

 

Stories

Building bridges, not walls

Hi there,

How are you?

I am enjoying the silence of an empty house. Hubbie is skiing, not in Northern Italy.

Last week he asked me why I hadn’t written anymore on the blog. I can’t tell. Days, weeks, seem to go fast. I realized I truly miss writing, the real writing, not the daily mails and texts that are just information, sometimes not even necessary.

What have you been up to?  Chatting is sometimes just entertainment, but it can be consoling too. I realized it is important to just ask how people are sometimes, to make Рeven if it is small Рa connection.

It was International Women’s Day and quotes have been coming in through different media. I prefer those that say that women should be kinder to themselves. Less critical. That’s what I find hard to do.

In the work I do at the refugee center here, I have met so many strong, unique and positive people. Helping out makes me happy, but there are many things I cannot help with, and that is frustrating.

I am proud though, to be part of a project, a job fair, that is bringing people together:¬† connecting the newcomers (almost one thousand people are living in the center nowadays) in our hometown to local companies and organizations. It is a first step in finding a job, and having a job is a first step to integration. There are so many talents here at the center, and there are still many vacancies at the local factories and companies. The newcomers do not speak Dutch well yet, some speak French or English. It will not be easy, but I see it as a networking event, even if they don’t immediately find a job.¬† They might learn how to apply for a job, the possibilities of training and other educational info.

The event is tomorrow. A few weeks ago I had to give a speech to local companies to promote this. I have to admit I was nervous. This is not something within my comfort zone.

Lately I have been reading “Daring Greatly, How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead” by Bren√© Brown. Vulnerability¬†is defined as ‚Äúuncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.‚Ä̬†Bren√© says¬†that ‚Äúvulnerability¬†is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.”
This book helped me focus on what’s important. That you don’t need to do things perfectly. Fear of not reaching your goal, can just paralyze you and prevent you from just trying and doing great things, even if they aren’t perfect. The past year I have been doing a lot of things I hadn’t done before. And it is a challenge, a chance to learn. Just jump and do it. It gave me a lot of energy and satisfaction. Being vulnerable also means opening up to others, showing them your own fears and doubts (a total emotional exposure is not meant here ;-)). It both helped me reach out to others and I had the impression it enabled other people to feel more comfortable telling me their stories.

I am very grateful with the connection I made with so many interesting people. In the first place the newcomers who were so strong to open up and tell me what they had been through, but also all the volunteers that worked with me in the center. People in this project want to give newcomers a chance, see through the label of refugee, and believe in the talents, spirit, and motivation. It gives me hope.

I came across this short poem, and it is sad, but I want to share it anyway, just to create a better understanding of what it must feel like, for so many newcomers.

you broke the ocean
in half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.

– immigrant

So we’ll try to not give our fellow human beings this feeling, ok?

And what have you been up to?
Have a good day, and count your blessings!

The photo on top is the lake next to the refugee center here in our hometown

Interior happiness

Architecture in Paris

Hi there,

Best wishes for 2020!

Did you celebrate well?
What are your resolutions? If you have any, tell me!
Do you want to know mine?

Well, be happy of course. Be happy with small things and precious moments with friends & family. Meet other people, or maybe really see and get to know people and treasure them for who they are. Listen. Embrace the uniqueness and try to not to focus too much on the differences that are upsetting. Be good and be patient. But not too tolerant, no, not tolerant for injustice. See the humor of awkward situations. Laugh a lot, laugh out loud, with tears if necessary. Be grateful.

I started this blogpost at the beginning of December. And then time just faded away. We left for Mexico in the middle of December, to visit Oldest and his girlfriend. X-mas was wonderful, our family gathered on the beach.

In November we went to Paris, my two sisters and I. It was a late present for my sister, whose birthday party was half a year ago.

Image result for charlotte perriandSo I want to take you to Paris! I won’t go in to everything we did, but I’ll just focus on the most special visit, to the exhibition of Charlotte Perriand, at the foundation Louis Vuitton, located in an impressive silvery artwork. It lasts until February 24th.¬† Go if you are interested in interior design, or just art in general, a really must-see exhibition!

Walking up there, in the Bois the Bologne, and seeing this magnificent building was a treat for the eye. The architect is Frank Gehry, also the designer of the Guggenheim in Bilbao among many others. The interior is huge and unique.  Upstairs you can go outside and have splendid views from the different terraces.




So who’s Charlotte Perriand? One of the biggest and inventive architects from the past century. She worked with and for Le Corbusier and was a specialist in designing interiors for small apartments. She was so far ahead of her time in seeing the necessity of living in limited square meters. Also her engagement in society is shown in the expo.¬† It was her wish that all natural resources and cultural heritage be available to all people:

Laisserons nous perdre cet héritage!
Il faut continuer la tradition
en allant de l’avant
Libérer les richesses naturelles
et culturelles au profit de
tous les hommes

Chaise longue and Fauteuil grand confort

A scale model of an apartment

Small apartments and student dorms, meticulously designed to fit everything in 

A kind of cubicle, prefabricated

The exhibition is large and elaborate. Charlotte’s life was long and she kept on working in so many areas. She lived in Japan and Brazil for some time and mingled that inspiration in to her work.

Of Japanese influence

She loved to wander on the beach and collect stones and other natural material she found and use their shapes into her own creations.

Equally as important, other works of contemporary artists are shown in this exhibition.¬† To name a few: Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Fernand L√©ger, Le Corbusier (of course), Pablo Picasso, Joan Mir√≥…

Fernand Léger

Alexander Calder

Le
Corbusier

taking a rest in le fauteuil grand confort ūüėČ

And what else did we do? Just walk under the blue autumn sky.

In the Musée des Arts Décoratifs we found two other interesting exhibitions: Marche et démarche, about the history of the shoes and Affiches Cubaines, on graphic design in Cuba.

Did you know that foot binding Рlotus feet Р in China had also a sexual purpose?

Cuban art

Remember poor Marie Antoinette? Picture by Erwin Olaf

She was an inspiration for art, fashion and of course the movie industry. We visited her last residence, before she was guided to the guillotine. The exhibition “Marie Antoinette, metamorphosis of an image” is held in the prison where she spent her last weeks. Vive la r√©publique!

Just one last minute tip, to satisfy our culinary aspirations. Two great restaurants (need to book upfront!): Fluctuat and Ca√Įus.

It was just two days, in one of the loveliest cities of course, and being immersed in art, I can happily end by these words of Charlotte:

Synthèse des Arts:
Elle joue à travers le temps, les continents.
Harmonie de m√™me origine, mettant l’homme en √©tat d’euphorie.
Elle enrichit son regard sur les choses,
elle le rend libre.

A la prochaine! Sophie

Interior happiness

Dalì and Magritte


A day in Brussels.

Have you visited this exposition already? Were you impressed?

For me visiting a museum is a good way to relax. A good way to be inspired, set my mind on other things.

Dalì and Magritte are both phenomenal artists. All their works combined in one expo is fabulous. I loved it.

Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.
Salvador Dalì

The works are hung together by connecting subjects, for instance “dream x hallucination,” “Georgette x Gala,” and “softness x desire.”

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor gala in Dali's paintingsImage result for photo gala and salvador"Gala was¬†Dal√¨’s muse and lifelong partner after they met in 1929.¬†Gala has long been considered equal part muse and monster. She was first married to the poet Paul Eluard.¬†The couple had an open marriage, and √Čluard took pleasure in introducing Gala to new lovers, including Max Ernst who left his wife to join the couple in a sometimes fraught m√©nage √† trois (did you see the Netflix series You Me Her?¬† Well they must have been inspired by Gala). Over the decades Dal√≠ painted her repeatedly ‚Äď as a giant head smiling serenely in a barren landscape, with a lamb chop resting on her shoulder like a military epaulette, as a fractured Raphaelesque Madonna, or calmly opening her shirt to reveal her left breast.

Magritte’s muse was his wife Georgette, a middle-class catholic woman. They married in 1922. She appeared often in the paintings but is only occasionally named, mostly in private portraits. ¬†Georgette was a far more modest woman than Gala.
Did you know Paul Simon wrote a song about René and Georgette Magritte?
Georgette et René .jpg
Image result for georgette magritte painting"
Above,¬†Ren√©¬†and Georgette, Georgette painted by¬†Ren√©. Under ‘The Enigma of Desire’ by Dal√¨

My friend Leen and I talked about how much you can see in Dal√¨’s paintings. They are indeed often as an image of a dream, where people, places, memories and desires come together in a weird way.

The work of Sigmund Freud was profoundly influential for Surrealists, particularly his book, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). Freud legitimized the importance of dreams and the unconscious as valid revelations of human emotion and desires; his exposure of the complex and repressed inner worlds of sexuality, desire, and violence provided a theoretical basis for much of Surrealism.

Dal√¨ and Magritte met in the spring of 1929, in Paris. In the summer of that year, Magritte traveled to Spain, to Dal√¨’s house.¬†Gala and Paul √Čluard joined the party, and Dal√≠ began an affair with Gala.

There sure was a rivalry between the two artists. Dal√¨ was financially successful from the early years, in contrast to Magritte who needed to take commercial work to survive. Magritte only received a decent income from his art in the 50’s. They also were very different on a political level. Magritte followed the Belgian communist party and¬†Dal√¨ supported the facists and falangists. It was more a sentimental political favoritism than an ideological one.

If you want to know more, I found a deep analysis on this blog by Alexander Adams.

Image result for rene magritte graphic design"After having seen the expo, we also went to the permanent Magritte museum, which has many works of Magritte and also goes deeper into his personal life. Magritte did a lot of graphic design in the beginning.

But if you are intrigued, do visit this beautiful exhibition, it is open till February 9, 2020.

And if you have seen it, let me know how you felt!

Ciao, Sophie