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Belgian artist’s ‘portable oasis’ creates COVID-free bubble for one

Onlookers in Brussels appeared amused and confused by the man wandering between the shops - mostly closed due to COVID-19 restrictions - encased in a pod of thyme, rosemary, and lavender plants.

By: Reuters | Brussels |
April 20, 2021 10:30:47 pm
Belgian artist Alain Verschueren wears his "Portable Oasis" while performing in a street, saying he wanted to be in his bubble in the middle of the city, amid the coronavirus disease. (Photo: Reuters)

When governments around Europe told people to create a “bubble” to limit their social contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was probably not what they had in mind.

Alain Verschueren, a Belgian artist and social worker, has been strolling through the capital Brussels wearing a “portable oasis” – a plexiglass mini-greenhouse which rests on his shoulders, cocooning him in a bubble of air purified by the aromatic plants inside.

Verschueren, 61, developed the idea 15 years ago, inspired by the lush oases in Tunisia where he had previously worked. In a city where face coverings are mandatory to curb the spread of COVID-19, his invention has gained a new lease of life.

“As time went by, I noticed that people were coming up to me and talking to me. This isolation became much more a way of connecting,” he said. (Photo: Reuters)

“It was about creating a bubble in which I could lock myself in, to cut myself off a world that I found too dull, too noisy or smelly,” Verschueren said, adding that he has asthma and finds breathing within his contraption more comfortable than wearing a facemask.

“As time went by, I noticed that people were coming up to me and talking to me. This isolation became much more a way of connecting,” he said.

Alain Verschueren, a Belgian artist and social worker, has been strolling through the capital Brussels wearing a “portable oasis” (Photo: Reuters)

Onlookers in Brussels appeared amused and confused by the man wandering between the shops – mostly closed due to COVID-19 restrictions – encased in a pod of thyme, rosemary, and lavender plants.

“Is it a greenhouse? Is it for the bees? Is it for the plants? We don’t know, but it’s a good idea,” Charlie Elkiess, a retired jeweller, told Reuters.

Verschueren said he hoped to encourage people to take better care of the environment, to reduce the need to protect ourselves from air and noise pollution.

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