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Panorama Big Sur



"On Wings of Passion"

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                Volume 1

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Panorama Big Sur


Please enjoy this dynamic and fascinating video with high definition footage, including actual film from the Big Sur area and the construction of Panorama Big Sur in Voorhout.


                                                       Click on image to enlarge...Scroll left and right

Panorama Big Sur in Voorhout, The Netherlands

The headline of a Dutch newspaper of February 17, 2007 reads; “AMERICAN PANORAMA COMING TO TULIPLAND. As of the beginning of May, the city of Voorhout will be in California. Or rather, California is coming to Voorhout."

Voorhout, a delightful little village in the heart of Holland’s famous flower fields area will be home to my Panorama Big Sur for at least a year. My team and I arrived in Voorhout at the end of March to set up and build the enormous structure for the Panorama. At this time of year the hyacinths, tulips, and narcissus are in full bloom. As far as the eye can see, a sea of color combined with a dazzling aroma fills the senses. Tourists from all over the world come to watch this spectacular scene; even the Dutch people take some time out to see out to see all this.

The huge canvas was shipped from California to Voorhout via boat. It arrived a few weeks earlier than we did so that it could acclimate. Fortunately, the painting survived the journey minus a few insignificant bumps and bruises.


A Family Affair… The construction of the Panorama with its darkened hallways, spiral staircase, and viewing platform took six weeks to complete. Incredible efforts were made by Thom Metcalf, my brother Simon, my son Rogér, and my girlfriend Shelley to complete this whole project in such a record time. I also would like to thank Jaap, Jeroen and Harry for a phenomenal job well done.  The faux terrain, the foreground of the painting, consists of rocks and plants similar to the ones found in Big Sur.Styro-foam was usedfor rocks. After carving rocks out of this awesome stuff, they were

painted the right color. To my delight and surprise, practically the entire Balyon family was in the rock business instantaneously.

 I admit, I sometimes held my breath when seeing a bunch of eight and twelve year-old children handling big knives. However, none of them lost any fingers! From eight to eighty years old, my family members eagerly stood ready to help me with whatever needed to be done. It indeed became a “Family Affair”. Their names are too many to mention here, but they were all awesome…. I could not have done this project without their support!
One of the most cherished and treasured rewards I received was when my eighty year-old mother climbed a shaky ladder up onto the platform to see the painting for the first time and softly said, “Your Father would have been proud of you."

For more information about this please email: balyongallery@gmail.com


Here are some of the moments captured in the making of Panorama Big Sur in Voorhout
































The Panorama Phenomenon

In 1785, the Irish artist and painter Robert Barker by coincidence ‘invented’ the panorama painting. History tells us that he ended up in an Edinburgh prison because he was unable to pay his debts. Barker was bored in his small cell, where only a vertical wall below a small opening in the ceiling picked up any daylight. A sketch he made of a landscape on that wall suddenly was transformed into a magical ‘show’. This gave him the idea to light up his paintings in a similar fashion once out of prison.


Robert Barker registered his Panorama idea in London, and listed all the principles and features of an invention that would remain basically unchanged over the years.


The word Panorama, derived from the Greek terms ‘pan’ and ‘rama’, literally means ‘see all’. It is a continuous circular representation hung on the walls of a rotunda, specifically constructed to accommodate the canvas. The painting has to be so true to life that it could be confused with reality. The lighting source, emanated from the top, is concealed by a roof or”vellum” that makes it impossible to see beyond the upper edge of the canvas, while a ‘faux terrain’ (fake foreground) made with natural objects masks the lower edge of the canvas. Visitors are purposely made to feel confused  in Panorama

buildings. They are not supposed to notice how cleverly the incidence of light, sound, and in the Panorama Big Sur setting even wind, contributes to the illusion in space and time.


Panorama Big Sur

In November 1997, after three years in the making, Thomas Metcalf, my friend/artist and constructional engineer and I, unveiled “Panorama Big Sur” in Carmel Valley, California. Many thousands of visitors have come from all over the world to experience this 360-degree, almost 2000 sq. feet oil painting that virtually drops the viewers into the setting along the Big Sur Coastline of California, a 360-degree, 15 x 120 ft. rendition of the coastline of Big Sur, California. See Panorama Big Sur details.


In April 2007, Panorama Big Sur was opened and exhibited in the Netherlands. Included in the Panorama this time are the effects of a slight sea breeze as well as original sound-recordings of breaking waves from the spot where the painting was taken. In addition to all this, original objects taken from the Big Sur location are part of the painting’s foreground.


I am thrilled and honored to have my Panorama painting exhibited in my native country. When I grew up in The Hague, I was enormously inspired by a 120 year old Panorama that still exists in that city, called Panorama Mesdag. I knew then, that someday I would paint something like that

Bringing Panorama Big Sur to foreign destinations like Holland  brings certain predicaments along. For instance, ‘ice plant’, which grows lavishly in the Big Sur area, and thus depicted in the painting, are not indigenous to those countries. As a very important part of the total setting, the plants have to be part of the ‘faux terrain’ as well. This being the case, we resorting to replicas made to look exactly like this particular plant, which are specially made for Panorama Big Sur.






 © 2008 André Balyon. All rights reserved