It’s bigger on the inside

Yesterday I had a day off work, and inbetween watching a couple of movies I popped out to a shop. Not to buy anything, you understand, but to take photographs.

I first discovered this shop shortly after moving to Brussels, while wandering around the Rue Haute-Rue Blaes-Place du Jeu de Balle area, known for its market square and shops selling godawful hideous junk antiques and bric-a-brac. At first I though it was just another African mask shop, but once I started to explore the vast, labyrinthine, TARDIS-like interior, I realised that this was, in fact, The Mother Of All African Mask Shops.  Or at least, it used to be. You see, the first time I went there was over seven years ago, and I’ve only just now got around to going back with my camera. As I started to wander through tiny rooms and up and down precipitous flights of stairs, all jam-packed with masks, sculptures and musical instruments, it struck me that it wasn’t as big as it used to be. In fact at one point I saw a sign on the wall saying “more this way”, pointing to a blocked-up doorway. After I’d taken my fill of photos I asked the owner where the rest of it had gone, and he told me that the shop had been split in two and that the other half was now on the parallel Rue Haut. This makes sense as Rue Haut is slightly more upmarket than Rue Blaes and might attract a better class of customer (i.e. someone who might actually buy something rather than just sneakily taking photos of the merchandise). I made my way over to the new premises, only to find that they’re closed on Wednesdays.

Oh well. The photos I took fail completely to give you a real impression of the feeling of this place – dark, twisting, maze-like, possibly infinite. Take a look anyway. Click the door to enter…



6 thoughts on “It’s bigger on the inside

  1. J November 21, 2008 / 4:40 am

    1. I really liked Junebug!
    2. I love that feature, how you went to the photostream by clicking on the door! Totally cool.
    3. WOW on the masks. That is one amazing place.


  2. simonlitton November 21, 2008 / 9:12 am

    Thanks, J & Erik.
    What struck me about a lot of the masks was how sci-fi many of them look. In fact one of the designers on the Star Wars movies admitted that he was heavily influenced by African art.


  3. Peter November 21, 2008 / 12:23 pm

    I forwarded this post to the non-white member of my family who will undoubtedly be interested.

    Another family member came back from Zimbabwe years ago (on a medical mission) with several quite intriguing pieces of African art.

    My late grandmother owned a mask dating back to the independence of former Belgian Congo, but I lost track of it.

    Brussels is actually kind of special, with a significant community from our former colony.


  4. simonlitton November 21, 2008 / 1:22 pm

    Peter – that reminds me, I still haven’t been out to the African museum in Tervuren yet. I’ll put it on my ‘to do’ list.


  5. Peter November 23, 2008 / 3:00 pm

    The African museum in Tervuren is definitely worth your time Simon.

    When I last visited parts were being elaborately upgraded, but Veronica and Di loved it and so did it.

    There’s an amazing park and leisure area surrounding this grand building, although with today’s wet snow the inside is probably the safest bet.


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