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Province of Brabant - Expo Brussels 1935

Province of Brabant at the Exhibition Expo Brussels 1935
© L'Epi
Architect(s) : Van Hall

On the corner of Avenue des Athlètes and Avenue Coloniale, opposite the Palais du Congo, the Pavilion of the Province of Brabant was located.

The work of the architect Van Hall, who built it under the direction of Mr. Metdepenninghen, the Province's architect, it consisted of a large hall giving access to three rooms.

A covered exterior gallery was decorated with magnificent aerial photographs, illuminated at night, representing the main institutions created or subsidised by the Province.

The whole pavilion was illuminated by luminescent tubes which emphasised the beauty of its harmonious lines.

The hall of honour dedicated to the Brussels district was decorated with prestigious frescos. The painter Firmin Baes had evoked an allegorical Brabant: its letters, its arts, its industry, its transport. Mr Colin, the Forêt de Soignes in autumn. Mr. Pinot symbolised Brussels Seaport; Mr. Rogy represented the flower market of the Grand'Place and Mr. Masui the culture in West Brabant.

The centre was occupied by a monumental fountain of a very happy line, decorated with four replicas of the Spitter of the Town Hall of Brussels.

At the top of this fountain stood a diminutive of Marin's Saint-Michel, placed behind the balustrade of the Banque Nationale, rue du Bois Sauvage.

The high windows above the entrance portico were formed by stained glass windows, the work of Vermeersch, representing the coats of arms of Vilvoorde, Saventhem, Ohain, Assche, Brussels, Boitsfort, Waterloo, Tervueren, Dieghem, Grim-berghen, Ixelles, Dilbeek and Haecht.

To the right and left of this vast room opened a wide corridor, where artistic dioramas, designed by the painters Masui and Hermans, recalled the works of the province, located in the district of Brussels:

1. Provincial school for market gardening and floriculture in Anderlecht, whose aim is to prepare pupils for the profession of market gardener or florist.

2. Provincial School of Bakery, Pastry, Confectionery and Chocolate in Brussels, which gives the scientific and practical notions necessary to train bakers and pastry cooks capable of accomplishing their work according to modern methods, with the best yield and the best quality guarantee.

3. The aim of the Institution is to facilitate the execution of the legal provisions organising the primary education of boatmen's children; to ensure, in addition, their professional education, to encourage and prepare vocations for navigation on the canals, rivers or the sea.

4. The Provincial Institute for Cripples in Brussels, which has the task of providing primary and vocational education for cripples and cripples of both sexes and the rehabilitation of accident victims. The organisation includes: an orthopaedic treatment service with free consultation, and courses in shoemaking, bookbinding, basketry, tailoring and leatherwork.

5. Institut Pasteur in Brussels. Director Mr. Jules Bordet, Nobel Prize winner, President of the Scientific Board of the Institut Pasteur in Paris. The Pasteur Institute is concerned with the study and prophylaxis of transmissible diseases.

6. Provincial Institute for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe. The aim of this institution is to provide deaf-mute or blind children with a suitable education and instruction. Trades taught: musician, tuner, brushmaker, casket maker, cutter-tailor, canner, shoemaker, typist, industrial designer, cabinetmaker, engraver, gardener, lithographer, masseur, carpenter, typographer, sculptor and basket maker.

Two dioramas showed a characteristic view of the deliberation room of the Provincial Council of Brabant and an aspect of the entrance to the technical buildings of the Province in Brussels.

The adjoining room was an apotheosis of the district of Nivelles. The painting was done in blue tones on an old silver background. In the centre, a statuette reproduced Jean de Nivelles, by Collet.

On the walls, admirable compositions evoked: agriculture in the Jodoigne region, by Louis Buisseret; the procession of the Collegiate Church of Nivelles by Lempereur; the metallurgy of Clabecq by Paulus. A tourist exhibition likely to attract the visitor's attention to the sites, monuments, curiosities and artistic beauties of Brabant completed the presentation. A tourist map by the painter E. Tytgat was the central point of this demonstration, complemented on the right and left by the projection of two films reproducing one hundred and eleven photographs of sites, monuments and works of art chosen from 57 municipalities grouped into two itineraries.

Some dioramas summarised the various institutions of the province created in the Nivelles district:
Université du Travail in Nivelles, which aims to provide the workers of the region with the knowledge necessary for the rational exercise of their profession: wood and iron work, industrial drawing, accounting, drivers and correspondents - cutting and tailoring, men's waistcoats - domestic art.

Provincial Normal School for Young Girls, which awarded 373 diplomas.

The Wavre School of Agriculture, which continues to train young farmers with a sound knowledge of cultivation, animal husbandry and mechanics, enabling them to manage the work of the farm.

School of Viticulture and Arboriculture in La Hulpe. The aim of the institution is to train, through theoretical and practical teaching, practising winegrowers and arboriculturists who are familiar with their trade and capable of practising it according to modern farming methods.

And the interesting work of the Waterloo Farm School, which aims to instruct and educate, using appropriate methods, children with nervous system or brain deficiencies or anomalies.

The manual work taught there includes: housework, farm work, gardening, sewing, shoemaking, carpentry, basketry.

The room of the district of Leuven, which was the counterpart of the room of the district of Nivelles, was decorated in the centre with a statuette by the sculptor Vandevoorde representing the Leuven tribune Pierre Coutereel.

The decoration of this room was done in blood tones on an old silver background. Van Humbeek had synthesised the candlelight pilgrimage of Montaigu; Swijncop had painted the Grand'Place of Leuven with students; Logelain had painted a living landscape of Tienen.

A heraldic map by René Lynen attracted attention by its originality. Thirty-six municipal coats of arms painted on glass by the glass painter Colpaert caught the eye. Here too, dioramas introduced the visitor to the provincial works and institutions of the district.

The Law Courts of Leuven: built according to the plans of the architect Francotte to replace the old provincial court, which burned down in August 1914.

School of market gardening and floriculture in Leuven: the aim of which is to train market gardeners who have a trade and are capable of rationally increasing the yield of crops.

Provincial Normal School for Boys in Tienen: (French and Flemish section) 524 teacher's diplomas have been awarded by this establishment since its creation.

Provincial Normal School for Young Girls in Leuven: Flemish section. It has awarded 135 diplomas.

Provincial School of Agriculture in Tienen:
Its aim is to give young farmers reasoned knowledge of cultivation, breeding, mechanics, putting them in a position to carry out the work of the farm according to modern methods of exploitation, to instruct, guide and enlighten them, on the spot, in the execution of this work.

The vast central room, bathed in an amber atmosphere, was remarkable for its documentary interest.

Graphs showed the progress made by the Province; The increase in population, the number of communes and inhabitants served by drinking water, the industrial development, the progress of credits granted for the main and rural roads, the population and the communes served by these roads, the mileage of the lines provided by the Vicinal Railways, the sums budgeted for the provincial roads, the low-cost housing, the sums foreseen to fight unemployment and to support social works, the subsidies and encouragements to agriculture, those granted also to general and technical education.

Two illuminated maps gave a faithful overview of the development of electricity and gas distribution in Brabant.

At the back of the room, a huge map measuring 8 metres by 6 metres. 40 highlighted the state roads, provincial roads, waterways and provincial institutions. This map, a true masterpiece, had been executed by the S. A. Hypsos, the artistic part by Mr Sano, the electrical and mechanical part by Dr Timmermans.

In the presence of a large audience, Baron Houtart, Governor of the Province, inaugurated the Brabant Pavilion on 29 May.

After welcoming the personalities who honoured the ceremony with their presence, Baron Houtart gave the following speech:
"In this small provincial pavilion, do not expect to find a fair of samples of the natural and industrial wealth of Brabant. The golden wheat and the sugar roots, the hops that make our Brabant beers so tasty, the grapes of Hoeylaert are not displayed here in specimens worthy of the Promised Land. The metallurgical products of the Qabecq region, the artificial silks of Tubize, the cobblestones of Quenast, the flours and pasta from the factories along the canals and the Dyle, the sugars of Tienen, do not look for them in this enclosure, they triumph in other galleries.

Our building is not erected to the glory of the material interests of Brabant; it seeks to be the domain of the mind and the heart. It aims to show that this province is not only an administrative entity or an economic mass, but a living reality, rich in the traditions of its past, cooperating for the general good in the joy of work and the smile of nature, and also concerned to prepare its future.

The history of the Brabant people is inscribed in the monuments that dot the province: their warlike ardour in the castles, their faith in the collegiate churches and cloisters, their fierce autonomy in the town halls that rise proudly in the public squares. You will find all this history evoked in a heraldic map and in a cavalry view worthy of the most exquisite imagiers of the past. Jean de Nivelles, Pierre Coutereel, the
the Leuven tribune, and Saint Michael dominating Brussels, evoke in these rooms the three chief towns of the district and their history. But nothing will tell us better what Belgium owes to Brabant than the loan of its arms and flag by the young kingdom to the old duchy: the clattering of two tricoloured flags at the top of this pavilion confirms this tribute in the wind.

The witnesses of our past must be seen on the spot, and we invite you to do so using all the modern resources of tourism. This is how you will also be able to judge the various aspects of Brabant's nature. The generous harvests of Hesbaye, the hills of Linkebeek, the heaths of Sonienbosch, the silvery light of our seaport, the heaths announcing the Kempen, the fragmented plains of the Hageland, discreet and sober like the landscapes of our primitive masters, will charm you in turn, as much as the dialects of our Walloon and Flemish farmers. This variety of our province, a shortening of the whole country, has been devoutly fixed by our artists in paintings that will remain; Brabant is delighted to have met on this point the wishes of the Commissioner General of the Brussels Exhibition, who likes to see lasting works perpetuate the ephemeral glory of the World's Fairs.
It was then up to Mr. Charles Gheude to explain the significance of the Province's participation in the Brussels Exhibition.

After defining the plan that the Province's participation had followed, and paying tribute to the various collaborators and artisans of its success, the speaker added:
"Using light, games and the brilliance of electricity, we wanted to show the whole Province as it is, with its outline, its administrative divisions, its chief towns, its roads, its canals, its towns and communes, in an imposing format and animated by a thousand lights.

A lesson in things. One of our aims was to interest and educate.

Another was to celebrate in advance the centenary of the Provincial Law and to show the use that Brabant has made of this law over the course of almost one hundred years.

The general public usually has only vague notions about the Provincial Government. For many, the Province is merely a territorial division. They ignore - or forget - its fundamental law, the work announced by the Constituent of 1830 and realised six years later, the raison d'être of a power serving as an intermediary between the Commune and the State, charged with satisfying the interests, rights and particular, intellectual, moral and social needs of the Region, with ensuring that a Provincial Order prevails, to remain one of the living parts of the Nation, to form the public spirit, to serve as a barrier to the encroachments of power, to localise grievances, to arouse private initiatives, to decentralise problems, to stifle the seeds of division, and to contribute, by enlightened action, to the beauty, the greatness, the glory of the common Fatherland.

It is because, for ninety-nine years, under the aegis of the twelve governors who have succeeded one another at its head, nine during the first half of this period, three during the second half, it is because, guided in this way, tenaciously obeying its duty, whatever the composition of the elective Council that animated it, the Province has pursued a meritorious action, that it was appropriate to highlight it.

Ninety-nine years - let us say a century. What a long way we have come and what an evolution. You can judge this by the luminous diagrams on the walls of this room. You will compare Brabant in 1836 with what it has become: its population has tripled, education has been widely spread, there is gas, electricity, railways, roads, water supply, industrial development, social works, low-cost housing, and so on... an influx of activity and progress, a gradual ascent, a tireless push towards the betterment and the enlightened and fruitful protection of the Brabant people.

© Le Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1935