This week the theme is transformation. So who can tell me how to create a piece of art out of bugs?
The image shows a close-up of one of the chandeliers in the Royal Palace’s Mirror Room, which (like the ceiling in the background) is covered with wing cases of jewel beetles. Brussels managed to surprise me once or twice so far, and seeing this room for the first time was one of those jaw-dropping moments. Due to their iridescence, the wing cases create a richer colour than any pigment we can artificially produce and they change colour depending on the reflected light. Still sounds kind of creepy, you say?
The construction of the room began under the reign of Leopold II towards the end of the 19th century. The mirrors on the walls were added later to replace the originally intended allegorical scenes evoking provincial Congo, while the bug ceiling (the work of local artist Jan Fabre) was added in 2002. The decor certainly lends the room a somewhat macabre touch, although (however outlandish the idea may seem first) I have to admit, the overall look is striking. The mere thought of close to a million and a half jewel beetles on the ceiling might be enough to send shivers down your spine, although jewel beetles have been traditionally used in jewellery-making and for decoration in certain parts of the world (especially Asia). I guess, people were probably a lot less squeamish back then, than they are today.