A palace in Belgium puts a new spin on the term “Green Building Material” with the use of 1.4 million green jewel beetle wings to adorn a ceiling. The Hall of Mirrors (2002) is an instillation by artist Jan Fabre in the Royal Palace of Brussels that took over 3 months to make and 30 assistants to assemble.
People unfamiliar with insect exoskeleton may believe a material like this won’t last, but in an interview with Sculpture Magazine, Jan explains:
I use strong materials, which happen to have a fragile appearance. The color of those beetle shells will never fade, for the outer integument contains chitin, one of the strongest and lightest materials on earth, which was used for objects destined for the Mir space station.
Image Credit: Scultpture.org (close up of beetles)
The next question one may ask – Where does someone get 1.4 million beetle wings? I discovered this on a recent trip to Thailand and found that this beetle is very abundant and prepared as a food! Anyone visiting Bangkok will see many of the fried insect dishes and this beetle is eaten by the ton. The colorful wings are discarded before this unique protein dish is prepared. What a great use for an animal by product!
You can see more of this artist’s work at: The website of Jan Fabre.