Author Options:

Ceiling art made from beetle shells Answered

In Most European palaces and castles, it is common to find the ceilings decorated with ornate gilded woodwork and elaborate frescoes. In Brussels, Belgium, one particular hall in the Royal Palace has a very peculiar ceiling that is decorated with very strange items.

The hall's ceiling, which has remained unfinished since 1909, was redecorated by the contemporary Belgian artist Jan Fabre. Fabre was inspired by Sternocera aequisignata, a type of jewel beetle of the Buprestidae family, which has a shimmering green iridescent shell. Fabre and 30 other diligent artist armed with a truck-full of beetle shells and glue, transformed the empty ceiling into one bejeweled with a sea of swirling and twinkling green. The team also went to work on the center chandelier in the hall, turning it from gilded gold to sparkling green. As one gazes up at the masterpiece from the floor, the whole mass of shells appears to move as the light reflects from different angles.

Jan Fabre calls the the ceiling Heaven of Delight, as a reference to ''The Garden of Earthly Delights'' by early Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch ( a personal favorite of mine). The green shells do indeed add a great amount of energy to the once bland and vacant hall.

1.6 million beetle shells were used. The beetles, which are wood-boring and are mostly considered a pest, appears abundantly in India, Thailand, and Vietnam. They are sometimes cooked and eaten, however their beautiful shells are discarded.

Translated Original


The photos don't do this project justice. The color is amazing, and the effect is as if tropical nature had invaded Leopold's stodgy, conventional gilt-and-plaster palace. Look for Fabre's edgier projects on colonialism, and if you find yourself in Brussels, by all means visit this astonishing place!

This is fantastic! I love iridescent beetle shells (wings?).

THe right question is: who made this? The answer is: jan Fabre.


8 years ago

I don't understand the revulsion. If this bothers you, you don't want to use chalk, made of the calcium carbonate remains of plankton in ancient oceans. (Do Vegans use it?) Also, these bugs are pests, so they were not raised to be used.


8 years ago

Does that comply with EU Building Codes??? :-P Sorry. Been reading a book about the EU and its effects on the French food culture.

I saw it and I can tell you, for the price they paid that guy to do it it is not worth it by a long shot!

I mean I'm all for art expression but goddamned my tax money went to this piece of crap! And to make matters worse it's in the royal palace, those people get enormous amounts of money from us every year and still they can't find the common sense to think of paying for themselfs... What was that saying again? It's easy to spend money that isn't yours?

Excuse me for my harsh language but my temper always stagnates when the topic of royal families and the amounts of money they get for doing absolutly nothing but go to some fancy dinners and shake some hands...

That is beautiful!! Talk about upcycling. Reminds me of the guys who tiled their entire bathroom in pennies but on a much more stunning scale. Love it!

That is amazing. my only worry is what will they do when the shells start deteriorating? I'm sure nobody wants to look up and say " my how lovely...um that one fell in my eye."


8 years ago

super cool!

Wow. That is stunning. I never would have thought you could do something like that with beetles!

I loved reading all of the comments here, ranging from adoration to repulsion. I was fortunate enough to see it with my own eyes (it is hard to see with someone else's eyes anyway) and it is overwhelmingly otherworldly beautiful. Jan Fabre is an interesting artist For those who are grossed out, consider what your leather shoes are made of, or what is in that make up most people use. Fact is we used to use natural animal products for our protection and now it is for decoration. At least these 1.9 million beetles fed a lot of people.

Yeah, we think we are so smart as a species. The bower bird decorates his bower (a sort of art gallery he builds) with these same beetle wings, as well as bright flowers, red berries, shiny rocks, etc. and then invites prospective mates to check it out. If the girl bird likes his "art collection", she'll settle down with him.

Oh, yeah, that's right. Those stupid bower birds should have chosen to be born with thumbs! Hah! Dumb birds!

Yeah, I knew that! That's why I replied with sarcasm. Seriously, we do get a lot of good ideas from nature. Making paper is one. Suction cups is another. GPS systems (bees have them). Sonar. Even heavier-than- air flight. There's a huge list.

I really want that chandelier

Ditto... though it might not go with my mauve accent wall and flowery purple wallpaper.

I suspect I have inherited a girl's room

If you like the painting, you might also like the song. "Garden of Earthly Delights" is one of XTC's best tunes. Check 'em out on iTunes or on Lala: http://lala.com/z2Ya

Great post, Skyfinity!

That is amazing.

I would never get my sister through the door, though.

Just the one. She's an almost-inactive member here, but I'm not going to reveal her ID (at her request).

To clarify that these beetles were treated humanely, I added the following:
1.6 million beetle shells were used. The beetles, which are wood-boring and are mostly considered a pest, appears abundantly in India, Thailand, and Vietnam. They are sometimes cooked and eaten, however their beautiful shells are discarded.

While all of the beetles that gave their wings have indeed passed on, they have left an enormous legacy in the beauty of their shells!

Ummm....Places on my "Do not visit list", this is now one of them.

That is very cool, very gross, And very sick all at once.


8 years ago

I can't decide if that's awesome or creepy. I think it's both!


8 years ago

Wow, that's incredible!