Before last week’s visit to Liege, all I knew about Belgium was that it was a country famous for beer, chips, chocolate and Tintin… Now I know that it should be also renowned for super warm and friendly people, grand old buildings, and the Liege printmaking festival!

The station itself is a wonderful piece of architecture by Santiago Calatrava which was rebuilt in 2009. Covered partially in snow from a heavy fall 2 days ago, the light filtering down was like some complex binary pattern.

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You can even see the rocket from Tintin to the far right of this shot…

The gallery where the international printmaking festival show is held is in the Musee des Beaux Arts, Liege, or BAL for short. It’s very central, just set back from the river by less than 100 metres, and a very grand large space.

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I was pleased that they had hung so many of my prints. It is the first time that 28 prints  from the series Shift have been shown on one wall like this, and the projected animation was on the facing wall, which made a good link between the two.

IMG_5956This festival has been held every other year on nine previous occasions, and selects a mix of artists from all over the world. This year, I was the only artist from the UK, outnumbered by those from Brazil, Congo and China. Artists from Japan, Poland, Romania and the US were there too, alongside a larger number of French, Belgian, Canadian and German artists.

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The uniqueness of the event was the mix of events in the museum as well as a satellite festival of art events with openings on the following days. We had an evening reception, and then, the following morning, breakfast in the museum with pain au chocolat, strong black coffee AND chocolate truffle eggs!!! This was a great opportunity to look at the work again and share a chocolate high with the other artists.

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For a TV report of the event in French please see the following link

http://www.rtc.be/reportages/262-general/1454329-neuvieme-biennale-internationale-de-gravure-a-liege

And for a lot more photos of the show itself please see my facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151307272056481.1073741825.566891480&type=1&l=28665e1192

I found myself exploring the city on my own the following day. The city is ancient, with narrow walled cobbled streets that wander uphill. It is a place that feels full of secrets.

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I had bought a grey furry squirrel hat in Brussels in a flea market, which looked like half an arctic fox had also been incorporated into the brim, and played around with the idea of juxtaposing my modern day tourist self with this item from the past…

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In the evening we all gathered in the Musee d’Ansembourg which was a glorious palatial mansion along the Feronstree, still decorated with old clocks, stucco ceilings and these coloured glass windows.

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I was inspired by the dark mirrors and the glossy floor reflecting the afternoon light. I think it would make a wonderful venue for new narratives.

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Another day of wandering the streets and I went up and down the montagne de beuren (the hill with a view) ending up at a small convent like gallery called the Musee de la vie Wallonne, where there was a great show about murder: the perpetrators, reasons, repetition, punishments and depiction in the media. My favourite section was the bit on facial recognition from prior to the discovery of unique fingerprinting: here are photos of ears and noses categorised into different types…

IMG_5846All in all, a lot of food for thought.

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