Zundert Bloemencorso (2017)

"Chased Away" by team Laarheide. Designers: Brian Boot & Joeri Huijbregts.

"Chased Away" by team Laarheide. Designers: Brian Boot & Joeri Huijbregts.

Now in it's 81st year, the Zundert Bloemencorso is the oldest and most elaborate flower competition in the world. This year, 2017, marked the 5th occasion in which I've had the privilege and opportunity to participate in the construction of a large dahlia sculpture. Our neighbourhood team (Laarheide) entered the competition with their float "Chased Away" and was awarded 7th prize.

Survival is imperative for the large gorilla attempting to escape the destructive path of a habitat destroying forest fire. This animated flower sculpture is executed to initially appear as billows of smoke from which a gorilla's head emerges and transforms out of the plume. Additional effects of smoke and burnt trees added to the overall ambience and impression.

"Carried on a Pedestal" by team Schijf. Designers: Huub van Caam, Sander van Hooydonk, & Maikel van de Korput.

"Carried on a Pedestal" by team Schijf. Designers: Huub van Caam, Sander van Hooydonk, & Maikel van de Korput.

The 2017 overall winner was "Carried on a Pedestal" constructed by neighbourhood team Schijf. Over one hundred animators, dressed as tribesmen, carried the large reclining emperor throughout the streets of Zundert. The emperor's head turns from side to side as his eyes open and close to sneak a glimpse of the audience. During the grand procession the tribesmen beat their drums while chanting. It was also awarded the first Public's Prize.

"Under Attack" by team Helpt Elkander. Designer: Louisa Joosen

"Under Attack" by team Helpt Elkander. Designer: Louisa Joosen

The colourful and emotional subject matter of "Under Attack" was created by team Helpt Elkander. The large sad faces of refugees peer out from behind barb wired fencing and screened glass. Led by masses of refugee animators walking with the few belongings they have. It was awarded second place and also second Public's Prize.

Le Jardin Exotique

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The tiny principality of Monaco never ceases to amaze me with all it has to offer. On my fourth visit to this lavish area of the world, I finally manage to find my way to what has eluded me all these visits, Le Jardin Exotique du Monaco. Le jardin exotique was first opened to the public in 1933 and boasts over 1,000 species of plants from tropical locations around the world (Mexico, South Africa, and the Middle East). The collection of plants in these gardens actually began earlier in 1895. Perched high-up on a cliffside, the exotic gardens provides soothing breezes and amazing glimpses of the sparkling turquoise ocean (Baie des Anges) and Monaco-Ville (The Rock). Winding down the cliff on a series of winding pathways, I take in the details of hundreds of giant cacti and succulents on this hot sunny afternoon. There is no right or wrong way to navigate through the gardens, as all paths lead you down to an observation deck and a huge cavern in the cliffside. I await the tour guide who brings me down a staircase and deep into the grotto. Inside, stalactites and stalagmites hang from the cavernous ceiling. Approximately 100 steps back up to the surface proves to be a challenging hike but well worth the visit.

World Press Photo

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Since 1955, the independent non-profit organization, World Press Photo has selected, judged, and promoted the best of international photojournalism. Every year from early April to mid-June, WPP kicks off its worldwide travelling exhibit at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Attending the World Press Photo launch has become one of my favorite traditions while visiting the Netherlands. This past summer I took in my third WPP exhibit of striking and profound images documenting the battle for Libya, the aftermath of Japan’s Tsunami, scenes from North Korea, and an inside view of Mexican drug cartels. This year’s “Photo of the Year” is of a Yemen tear gas victim, by New York Times correspondent, Samuel Aranda. For more information on World Press Photo visit: www.worldpressphoto.com