I was walking today in the streets of Brussels under a grey sky.
And I couldn’t help but notice, as many times before, the absolute greyness of Brussels. Grey pavements, grey buildings over a grey sky. A friend of mine suggested that the title “50 shades of grey” would be more suitable to describe Brussels rather than female sexuality…
At the same time, while “shades of grey” generally means something not being clear as to what is right or wrong, the shades of grey of Brussels are clarifying. They are clarifying in the sense that there are no distractions.
Rarely is my thought process so clear and creative as when I am aimlessly walking the streets of Brussels. I can start a thought, process it, develop it, finalise it, without any interruptions, nothing to attract my attention…
The grey also serves as a background that enhances anything non-grey. The type of grey used by photographers on the screens of their computers to make their images more prominent.
Trees, flowers, graffiti, stick out and are more noticeable than in visually busier environments. It is for these reasons that I have come to appreciate and actually love the greyness of Brussels, a place I now comfortably call home, despite my Mediterranean roots.
And I kept thinking of the rooftop photos of the young and talented photographer Lisa Lapierre in the “This is Belgium” book.
The photos capture the greyness perfectly. The success of the photos is that there is no attempt to hide the grey. There is no attempt to “beautify” Brussels in any traditional sense…the sky is not made bluer, the haziness is not cleared, the colours of the buildings are not intensified…the greyness is left undisturbed.
This is indeed Belgium.
And it’s beautiful.
“This is Belgium” is published by The Word magazine. Information on how to buy it can be found here.