Two Exhibitions in Brussels You Need to See This Summer

I recently spent a few days in Brussels and was lucky to catch two excellent exhibitions.
They’re both on until the end of August so I thought I’d quickly give you a heads-up here in case one of you plan to spend some time in the Belgian capital this Summer.
Definitely pencil them in your diary!

intimate audrey exhibition brussels galeries de la reine

INTIMATE AUDREY (01/05/19 – 25/08/2019)

As the name of the exhibition suggests, we take a very close look at the life of Audrey Hepburn through an extensive collection of family photographs, correspondance and her clothes that look so tiny and frail on the various mannequins.
All these objects belong now to her son, Sean Ferrer, who put together this special event in honour of what would have been his mother’s 90th birthday. The location, Brussels, is not an accident as it is here that Audrey Hepburn was born.
It was amazing to see the places she grew up in Belgium and then in the Netherlands. As her life progresses, we see her passion for ballet and how it takes her to London where she makes her theatre debut. Then follows the iconic Hollywood moments we all know.
But my favourite part of the exhibition is the one dedicated to her time in Vaud, Switzerland where she bought a beautiful house covered in wisteria. There she opted for a slower-paced life where she spent her time gardening, making jams and entertaining friends and family. I loved the evocatively serene pictures of this season of her life. They were beautifully displayed around a delightfully fragrant apple blossom tree.

Espace Vanderborght – website
Rue de l’Ecuyer, 50
1000 Bruxelles
General €15 / Children & Senior €10
10 am-6 pm, Every day

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FLAMBOYANT (28/03/19-24/08/19)

This exhibition takes place in the stunning Villa Empain. This Art Deco architectural masterpiece is located on the Brussels’ Embassy strip. You won’t miss it as it almost looks out of place, like it’s been kidnapped from the Miami seafront.
It used to be the HQ of a national TV channel but it has since been renovated to its original splendour.
A long, long time ago, I came here to take part in a kids’ show so it was fun to come back and revisit this iconic building with its 1930s spirit restored. It is now a cultural centre that regularly runs exhibitions. There’s also a rather attractive cafe on the ground floor.
Flamboyant invites us into a whimsical reconstitution of this villa’s heyday. Through 12 fictional rooms we travel through time and imagine the life of a sophisticated art collector. The rooms are moody and full of 1930s knick-knacks. Some impressive art adorn the heavily wallpapered room. In the red boudoir, you’ll find a Matisse and spot the Kandinsky in the swanky bedroom!
If you’re an art deco lover, you cannot miss this exhibition.

Boghossian Foundation – website
Villa Empain
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 67
1050 Bruxelles
General €10 / Senior €8 / Children €4
11am-6pm, from Tuesday to Sunday

The Geffrye Museum | London

Geffrye MuseumGeffrye Museum
Exactly a year ago, I was spending a few days in London and I visited the Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch. I was lured in by the promise of period rooms. I already briefly touched on it in a previous post but basically the museum explore the evolution of English homes over 400 years. I wanted to delve a bit deeper into it today as their annual Christmas Past exhibition is back on.

Eleven rooms are dedicated to the recreation of the living spaces of the middle class and how they would celebrate Christmas from the 1600s to the present day. The food on the table, the ornaments and the traditions evolve as you change rooms. Watch Mince pies, colourful jelly, parlour games, mistletoe, tree decorations and everything that is quintessentially English make an apparition as you go further in the exhibition. It’s like a trip in the Christmas tardis.

Geffrye MuseumGeffrye MuseumGeffrye Museum
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Geffrye Museum

Unfortunately, the garden was closed when I visited but it looked gorgeous from what I could see from the window of the conservatory. That room was actually my favourite, it looked like something straight out of Mary Poppins, the pastel walls reminded of the underworld of Bert’s chalk drawings. The circular shape, of the merry-go-round, even the horse on the wall had the distinctive Disney long muzzle.

The museum is located in former almshouses that were destined for the poverty-stricken pensioners of the Ironmongers Company. It was built in 1714 by Sir Robert Geffrye, Master of the company and Lord Mayor of London. Facing the building lies a park where it feels good to take a break from the busy road outside.
Geffrye Museum
Geffrye Museum
Geffrye Museum

In one of the wings, two of these almshouses have been left in their original state and they are now open to the public on certain days of the week. Compared to the cosy Christmas rooms in the main part of the museum, they did look spartan but it was a very tangible way to picture the conditions in which the retired of the Iron trade and their family were living in the 18th and 19th century.

Geffrye Museum
Practical Information

The Geffrye Museum – website
136 Kingsland Road
London E2 8EA

The Christmas Past Exhibition is on until Sunday 3 January 2016

Opening Hours
10am – 5pm (Tue – Sun; Bank Holiday Mondays)

Free (there’s £4 entrance to the Almshouses, check the museum’s website for tour schedules)

Hoxton Station

67, 149, 242, 243 & 394

Audrey Hepburn & Ice-cream along the Thames | London, Day 1

I’m just back from a long week in London and it was fantastic as per usual. I got to tick off so much from my ‘London Bucketlist’! I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it so I thought I would post everyday this week with snappy rundowns of each day spent in my favourite city. And in the hopefully not too distant future, i will write more in-depth posts about some of the places mentioned. That way, I’ll also be able to talk about places that would have never made the cut. I want to quickly add that everything here will be budget-friendly. The pound was incredibly strong compared to the Euro so money was flying through my pockets even more so than usual. I tried to be wise and eat at home most of the time thanks to my friend who was putting me up (if you’re reading, thank you again Jane) so I’m afraid the recommendations for eateries and restaurants will be few and far between. But without further ado, here’s day 1 of my stay in the Big Smoke.

National Portrait Gallery


First port of call was the photographic exhibition on Audrey Hepburn. I used to be obsessed with her and whatever films she played in so when Jane mentioned it in an email, I knew it had to go on ‘the list’.
The exhibition recounts her life in pictures, from her mischievous smile as a child to her UNICEF work in Africa. Did you know she was born in Belgium by the way? #proudpatrioticmoment
In between, there’s quite a few publicity theatre and film shots, I was delighted to discover that a couple of her films escaped my Hepburn madness era. But there’s also incredible portraits by renowned photographers such as Cecil Beaton, Mark Shaw and the technicolor-wizard Norman Parkinson. I was so absorbed I didn’t even notice Gok Wan was in the same room, haha! The exhibition comprises of three rooms (and a half), it’s quite small but the pictures are full of interesting details. My favourite one was by Mark Shaw where you can see queen Audrey from three different angles in a mirrored dressing room.

Audrey is the most intringuingly childish, adult, feminine tomboy I’ve ever photographed. She’s many women wrapped in one.

Mark Shaw

PS: Photography wasn’t allowed inside, I even got shouted at for taking the picture of the entrance above -_-

2 July – 18 October 2015
St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE

South Bank


After wandering on the different floors of the National Portrait Gallery (which is free by the way), it was time to head out and soak up that hazy London sun. Direction: South Bank! Even though it’s quite a popular destination for both Londoners and tourists, I had actually never visited the area. When I lived in London, I really liked the bit of the bank from Tower Bridge and Eastwards. I’m glad I finally remedied to that ‘London faux-pas’ because it was a really pleasant walk. I watched the skaters rolling around in the skate park, browsed through a second-hand book market, made a silly picture in front of the National theatre, looked at the leaflets to see what was up in the Southbank arts centre and ate a strawberry ice-cream while watching people and seagulls.

It was then time to go home to go grocery shopping and on my way to the bus stop, I got to cross the Millenium Bridge for the first time, the view on the beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral was insane! How can one ever get tired of London?

Hope you enjoyed Day 1! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Day 2 x


La Divina Marchesa Exhibition | Venice

La Divina Marchesa

I thought I would kick off my posts on Venice with the only exhibition I went to. Since, it’s temporary (it runs until March), it only makes sense that I should get this post out of the way first.
I think I found out about the event on Instagram when the above painting popped up on my feed, I felt that I had seen this portrait before and instantly wanted to know more about this fiery looking lady.
I’m probably not the only one who experienced this feeling of déjà-vu as she is one of the most portrayed women in art history. Luisa Casati was indeed a muse for many artists in the beginning of the 20th century. She also commissionned numerous portraits for herself as she wanted to be “a living work of art”. The more I read about her, the more excited I was to visit this exhibition dedicated to her extravagant life.

La Divina MarchesaLa Divina MarchesaLa Divina MarchesaLa Divina MarchesaLa Divina Marchesa
La Divina Marchesa

In the dark Palazzo Fortuny, where the rooms are padded with silky brocade, objects and frocks belonging to Luisa Casati as well as portraits give insights into her life. From Man Ray’s picture of her where she defiantly stares at you to the snaps stolen by Cecil Beaton where she hides behind her hand. From being the richest woman in Italy to living her last days, destitute in London; you get the sense that the Marchesa lived the life to the fullest until it literally left her in rags.

From a rather conservative background, Luisa Casati reinvented herself after meeting the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio. She morphed into the look we know her for today: fiery red hair, heavily lined eyes and red lips. Even though she didn’t fit to the beauty standards of the day (she was deemed too tall and too thin),  she turned it around and became a femme fatale, the first ever female dandy. She had countless lovers (women and men) among the artists she hung out with but she kept a close relationship with d’Annunzio. On the first floor of the museum, in a wooden cabinet, there’s a little figurine modelled after her (pictured below). It is said that d’Annunzio had it made so he could look at her and feel Luisa Casati’s presence every time he was missing her.

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La Divina Marchesa

She was known for hosting the most lavish parties and for entertaining the most extraordinary whims. I had to chuckle while listening to the audio-guide (which I would recommend you opt for; they’re free) when I learned that she used to dye her dog blue to match her outfits. She was also famous for having pet leopards. Many people reported seeing her walking them on diamond studded leashes in Venice (she was the direct inspiration behind the iconic Cartier’s panther jewellery pieces). But she also liked to wear a less conventional, one could say, type of ‘necklace’ like… wiggling snakes!

With such intriguing stories and unique look, there’s no wonder that Luisa Casati still captivates our minds today. Recently, Alexander McQueen and Lagerfeld for Chanel created pieces inspired by her striking silhouette. You will be able to see some of them in this exhibition, the first solely dedicated to one of the most fascinating characters of the early 20th century.

La Divina Marchesa

Practical Information

The Divine Marchesa Exhibition (ends March 8th 2015)
Palazzo Fortuny – website
San Marco, 3780

Admission: General €12 / Reduced €10

Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm (closed on Tuesdays)

Vaporetto: Sant’Angelo (Line 1)

Pieces from the Grand Budapest Hotel in Dublin

annie atkins exhibition grand budapest hotel lighthouse cinema
lighthouse cinema cafe

If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson’s cinematographic worlds, you really need to go the Light House Cinema in Smithfield ASAP. There is something quite special awaiting you at the back of the cinema’s little café. There, inside two glass displays lay beautiful props from The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson’s latest release. You will find the already iconic Mendl’s pastry boxes, a bottle of champagne and Madame D.’s last will among other treasures.

The Grand Budapest Hotel book cover wes anderson
telegram serge grand budapest hotel wes anderson
prison map grand budapest hotel wes anderson
romantic poetry book cover grand budapest hotel wes anderson
oberstdorf madame d grand budapest hotel wes anderson

They were born under the hand of Annie Atkins, who was the lead graphic designer on the film. She is Dublin-based and kindly loaned her own copies to the Light House cinema so Wes Anderson fans can marvel at the intricate details that brought the fictititious empire of Zubrowka to life. She was responsible for everything paper in the film (telegrams, correspondence, passports, maps, currency, books, labels, reports, etc) and created the very hotel signage that you can see on the film poster as well.
Under Wes Anderson’s precise supervision, she drew influences from Ernst Lubitsch’s films and 1930s Germany to shape up Grand Budapest’s pink world.

mendl's box grand budapest hotel wes anderson
madame d grand budapest hotel wes anderson
agatha visa grand budapest hotel wes anderson
zubrowka stamps grand budapest hotel wes anderson

If you needed any more proof that Wes Anderson is a firm believer of ‘God is in the details’, The exhibition ‘A Brief Survey of Graphic Design from the Empire of Zubrowka (1932-1968)’ is for you. Nothing is left half-done, to the point where Wes Anderson wrote himself the articles in the fictitious newspaper The Trans-Alpine Yodel, knowing that no one would even read them. Well that is not totally true, is it? As you can do so now in the Light House Cinema.

lighthouse cinema grand budapest hotel poster

Practical Information

Annie Atkins Exhibition, from the 7th to the 24th of March 2014 (edit 25/03/14: extended until 31 March)
Light House Cinema
Market Square
Dublin 7

Luas: Smithfield
Bus: 37, 39, 70, 83 
Entrance: Free

Showtimes for The Grand Budapest Hotel at the Light House Cinema