I participated in an internship with Histories as part of my Master’s Degree in History in KU Leuven. As part of the internship, I worked on an online database to catalogue Irish traditions in Flanders such as St. Patrick’s Day, St. Brigid’s Day and Gaelic football. From my brief time here, I have come to recognise the crucial work of volunteers in heritage, and the ways in which they contribute to preserving local history.
Filming the Giants
I was lucky to be able to join Histories on two of their filming days, during which we were given the opportunity to witness the work and talent that goes into crafting Flander’s famous giants.
The first group we interviewed were two seamstresses in Ternat, who had the responsibility for sewing the giant’s clothes. These women showed us how they designed, measured, and cut a formal suit for their giant. The giant’s head was made by a local artist, and resembled the famous Belgian writer Pol de Mont.
The second filming day took place with a local theatre group, who had come together to create a giant dedicated to their former mayor. This style of crafting was distinctly different, as the group had decided to use 3D printing technology to form a more realistic interpretation of the giant. The team had also developed the giant to be able to stand and move, which is not the traditional design.
Both days highlighted the dedication and creativity of local communities in contributing to heritage, and maintaining local traditions.