Vincent van Gogh’s birthplace Zundert will commemorate the 125th year of his death by dedicating the 2015 edition of its flower parade to Vincent’s life and art. On July 29, the day the painter died, a huge dahlia flower tableau depicting one of his self-portraits will be erected next to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Vincent kept longing for Zundert all his life. He left the village when he was still in his early teens, but throughout his entire life he cherished the childhood memories of the Zundert peasants and the beautiful scenery. “Oh that Zundert, the thought of it's almost too much at times,” he wrote to his brother Theo at the age of 21.
Every year, Zundert hosts the biggest flower parade in the world. Creativity flourishes in the small town, where communities gather together during the summer months to build the huge floats for the parade 6 and 7 September. Usually the parade does not have a theme and the float designers have the freedom to choose from a wide diversity of ideas. But every now and then, Zundert honours its most famous citizen by inviting float designers to let the art and life of Vincent van Gogh inspire them.
2015 is such a year. All twenty competing floats will be towering tributes, up to twenty meters in length and ten meters high, to Van Gogh.
Winning float ‘Triade Van Gogh’ in the parade of 2003, which was also dedicated to Vincent van Gogh. Here, the parade passes the spot where Vincent was born in 1853.
On July 29th, the exact date of Vincent’s death, the Zundert community will launch a special project. One of his famous self-portraits will be blown up to huge proportions and meticulously covered in dahlias, the exact same type of flowers used for the flower parade in September.
The tableau will be exhibited on Museum Square in Amsterdam, just next to the Van Gogh museum where much of Vincent’s paintings are on display. About 50.000 flowers are required to make the portrait, and each one has to be put on the tableau by hand. The dahlias are grown on fields near the brook behind his parent’s house in Zundert, where Vincent used to wander as a child.
Just like the construction of the floats for the parade, the dahlia tableau will be a community project created and realized entirely by volunteers. People from Zundert organise, design and build the tableau themselves, just like they do with the floats for the annual flower parade. The design involves a careful translation of the colours of the self-portrait into the dahlia pallet, from which green and blue are notably missing.
The Zundert flower parade was founded in 1936 and is internationally renowned as the world’s biggest flower parade. Each year, twenty districts compete to build the most impressive float, as chosen by an independent jury. Winning the parade is the ultimate experience. Building the floats, growing the dahlias and organising the parade is all done by volunteers. The parade is a phenomenon with a large social impact on the local community.