Sunday, 5 August 2018

Lille's Details

The following are some of the architectural and incidental details that got my attention in Lille. Place du Général de Gaulle (Grand Place), was a particularly rich source. I like sunburst motifs and the example above on a building opposite the square across from the Voix Du Nord building was very unusual with its beaded glass eyes. It was as radiant as the real thing. The three golden maidens known as the Charities, who represent the ancient provinces of the region - Flanders, Artois and Hainaut, atop the Voix Du Nord building were created by sculptor Raymond Couvègnes and were another personal favourite detail of mine.

There is an association with Lille and seafood because of the close proximity to the fishing ports of Boulogne-sur-Mer and Dunkerque, and the tradition of Flemish cuisine which famously incorporates shellfish. This piscatorial influence is also reflected in the vernacular as pairs of fish swim across the facade of many a building in the centre of town.

Art Deco-era gems were still very much in existence. The stylised sleekness of form and economy of design, as well as opulent colours really exemplify the period.

The Green Man's presence was disguised amongst fish and foliage, and swags and copious cornucopias overflowing with foodstuffs abounded, demonstrating what a powerful and valuable trading centre Lille was in its heyday.

I liked the ghostly vestiges of cherubs just barely discernible on this crumbling facade.

This plaque set high on a street corner was really interesting, depicting the passage from the Bible where Abraham is being sorely tested, and about to sacrifice his son Isaac before divine intervention in angelic form restrains him from doing so. As Abraham is regarded as the patriarch of the Jewish people, I presumed that this area was once home to Lille's Jewish quarter. 

This beautiful neo-classical doorway employs the highest levels of stone masonry, wood carving and Art Nouveau ceramic tile design.

Wonderful geometric Art Deco mosaic tiles and symbolism.

Loved this ancient rusted teapot sign, and the masked rhinoceros was quite bizarre.

A mask on the facade of a performing arts shop, and an ornate ice cream cart.

Another sun motif from the same building as the first photograph, and the accompanying decorative wrought ironwork arrows on a railing were equally stunning. More great examples of Lillois' wrought ironwork follow below.

Yet more stylised wrought ironwork captured in these enchanting turn of the century "doortraits".

Me, being me, no visit would be truly complete without me finding some minor detail to obsess over. And as in Venice earlier this year where I admired their lovely brass and marble named letterboxes/entrance buzzers here, these wrought iron architectural elements caught my eye. Once I'd spotted one they just kept jumping out at me, and became the recurring motif which appeared on many of the buildings around Lille. Some were extravagant and florid, whereas others were a more utilitarian X shape. I didn't work out what their purpose was as they looked too small and flimsy to be used to pin brickwork, but they intrigued me as a component of the Lille vernacular.

Loving Lille.