Lier, June 11th 2015
Posted by Lisa Hill on June 12, 2015
Tonight we’re in Brussels, just round the corner from the European Parliament (in session, which explains the massive security force and the traffic jams), but we travelled her via the small town of Lier, not far from the border of the Netherlands and Belgium. Although they speak Flemish, the town feels more Dutch than Holland does because they go out of their way not to speak English or French, and Flemish is just Dutch pronounced in a different way and with some slightly different words.
We had planned to visit the Lier Cathedral but (much like everything else in the town) they close very promptly at noon for lunch, so they threw us out after five minutes. Still we were able to scamper around and take some nice photos, including the grandiose silver reliquary of St Thingamabob which features in the town’s Big Deal procession every October. BTW I think that tombstone includes the body of Johanna The Mad, one of the more interesting of this region’s women…
We had a nice lunch at a restaurant called Van Ouytsels Koffiehoekje. Like the church there were no concessions to non-Dutch speaking visitors – everything was written in Dutch. But we made a reasonable effort at translating and only needed a little help from the very helpful staff, and Tim enjoyed a local beer called Caves which we wouldn’t have known about without her recommendation.
And then we went to the Brueghel exhibition at the municipal museum. Apparently the major Brueghel gallery at Antwerp has been closed for renovations for ages, and won’t re-open for ages more, so they have farmed out their artworks far and wide, and some of them are in Lier for the duration. Not all of them are Brueghels, some are done by the Elder’s Offspring, and some by other enthusiasts, but whatever, we enjoyed the exhibition immensely.
The guide was a wealth of information, especially about this picture called Proverbs. There were actually two versions of it, almost exactly the same except that one was darker than the other, maybe because it needs cleaning, but I have no idea which one was which, and frankly I don’t think it matters. Tim looked it up on Google afterwards and apparently there are over 100 depictions of old proverbs in it, though she only told us about 25 of them or so. If you are like me and you just thought that Breughel was an artist who did beaut scenes of cheery peasant life with a bit of naughtiness thrown in, then it is a bit of a revelation to discover that he is much cleverer than that and his work is really sophisticated in intent and execution.
There were lots of other lovely pictures to look at as well, though the less said about the contemporary photo exhibition, the better. Apparently they feel that they can’t just show these Breughels for three years, so they commissioned a local to interpret the concept of ‘procession’ in photos, and the only word I can think of describe them is lame. I almost resented being made to spend time having them explained to me, except that I understood that the guide was being loyal to her local artistic community…
These pictures aren’t named because the gallery very cunningly hasn’t named them so that you can’t tell which are real Brueghels and which ones aren’t. Maybe when I get home I will do some Google image searches, but in the meantime, enjoy!