BMFLs for Ghent Floralien

Courtesy of Louise Stickland

Belgian LD Thomas Boets chose Robe BMFL Spots and LEDWash 600’s among others to light four sites across the city of Ghent for their 2016 Floralien (Flower Show).

This was a giant chandelier created by leading Belgian florist, Tomas De Bruyne working with Hitomi Gilliam & Natalia Zhizko, which was on display in the fabulous Baroque St Peter’s Church in central Ghent.

‘Delirious with Desire’ was the centrepiece of the whole expo and was installed beneath the main dome of the church just inside the main entrance. The enormous piece was rigged on a 6m diameter circular truss, weighed 3.5 tonnes and also included several strings of crystals and some big clear e27 bulbs in its midst to add a sparkle. It was suspended at a height of 17m from three trusses that had to be chemically fixed into the roof 30m above. The main floral chandelier was flanked by four 8m high floral ‘tapestries’ each hung 3m off the floor.

The first major challenge was rigging all this in the church, which took some serious planning and negotiating, and when that was completed, the next one was lighting the five pieces.

Thomas discussed the lighting in depth with Tomas de Bruyne and was acutely aware of the delicacy needed for the task which required fixtures that were powerful enough to throw lumens out into a dark space, subtle enough to enhance the beauty of the flowers and also that produced a specific quality of light.

Tomas de Bruyne had also requested lighting equipment that produced less heat – to preserve the best atmospheric conditions for the flowers. The four BMFL Spots were positioned on four 4m high towers on the floor directly below, shooting up at the sculpture from four corner positions and through it into the roof. He used some gobo projections and gentle animations in the six different lighting looks.

The 12 LEDWash 600s were around the base of the church’s structural pillars on the floor also pointing upwards, skimming all five floral pieces. The combination of these two fixtures created contrasting and complimentary shadows and added a layer of drama and interest for visitors.

The different coloured and textured looks were composed and then programmed onto a grandMA onPC based console which cycled through with a series of graceful fades. The controller also auto-started and stopped at the beginning and end of the 10 days duration of the expo. The technical supplier for this was L&L Stage Services.

In the Citadelpark area, Thomas’s brief was to create three distinctive atmospheres with the lighting related to remembering the First World War which decimated the region of Flanders over 100 years ago.

He also used 24 LEDWash 600’s on the first section of a large display in the Pedro de Ganje Expo building that recreated a WW1 battlefield. LEDWashes provided a nice dark blue glow that contrasted with break up gobos in profiles focussed over all the trees and the wall area around it, which was also lit to add depth.

Thomas worked with landscape designers Olivier Descamps and Christian Vermander from Buro voor Vrije Ruimte on this area and Charlotte Debusschere / Rik Jacques from Piece Montée.

The special soundtrack was composed by Philip Ryckman from obscurewavemusic, contractor André G built it and the technical supplier was again L&L stage services. Thomas used Robe CityFlex 48’s to light the wall behind a large flower sculpture also in the expo centre by Laura Dowling, florist for the White House, and the other two areas he lit were the Floralien Hall in the old Ghent expo centre and Plateau 6 which was an outdoor space.

Thomas was asked to design lighting for the Floralien by local event company Fast Forward, with whom he’s worked on many – mainly corporate – projects for about 10 years. He started work on it a year in advance, and really enjoyed using his experience and imagination in a completely new and different environment. “Design is sometimes about letting go – the details are not merely ‘details’.  They actually make the design,” he concluded.