The Crystal Ship, curated by Bjørn Van Poucke, brought fresh new murals and installations to the seaside streets of Ostend, Belgium.
Local and international urban artists invited to The Crystal Ships third edition were; A Squid Called Sebastian (B), Ben Slow (UK), Colectivo Licuado (URU), Dourone (FR), Etam Cru (PL), Gaia (US), Icy & Sot (IR), Jaune (B), Joachim (B), Johannes Verschaeve (B), Matthew Dawn (B), Milu Correch (AR), Oak Oak (FR), TelmoMiel (NL), Wasp Elder (UK) and Zoer & Velvet (FR).
The new artworks were created in the first week of the Easter holidays, and are now a permanent addition to the forty larger and hundreds of smaller creations from previous years. Check out the new editions to Ostend’s impressive artistic trail…
“OPIA” the ambiguous intensity of looking in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
Antwerp artist Joachim painted a huge mural just outside the city centre. His inspiration for the mural was from a conversation he had with an elderly man on the coastal tram from De Haan towards Ostend.
“I got chatting to an older man who could tell from my accent that I was not from Ostend. The man told me with pride that he had lived in Ostend all his life and that he had always worked at sea. He had even been a helmsman and said he had ‘spent more hours at sea than on the mainland’. The tone in his voice changed when he said that he “felt trapped on the mainland” since his retirement. I had to get off at Ostend station. With a slight melancholy feeling I left the tram. The sentence “caught on the mainland” continued to reverberate in my thoughts. That is why it seemed obvious to me to base my design on that. A sailor entwined in his ‘sailor ideals’ caught on the mainland. The anchor that is normally used to control a boat at sea now holds the man in his grip. The little ‘rudders’ that form a pattern on his sleeveless T-Shirt refer to the man’s past as a helmsman. The location of the wall (Oudenburgsesteenweg), on the border between water and land, is also ideal.” Joachim
London based artist Ben Slow painted an ‘Ode to Love… and Everything it Entails’. The couple Ben Slow painted, Mr and Mrs Drouard, live in the city of Ostend and have been together for an impressive sixty years! They are still very much in love today than they were many years ago. Ben reflects this in his piece with Mrs Drouard looking up affectionally at her life partner.
“The crown represents success. It being made out of paper signifies how trivial such pursuits are. In the centre of the subjects head, the letter I, the only thing he thinks about, I, I, I. The subject, blinded by his own obsessions is just like the viewer unable to see the outside world that spells B-L-I-N-D, with the B L N D painted in white on a light blue sky. On location the subject is with his back to all the other pieces as a symbol to how self-obsession gives us a false sense of superiority…. There’s also a chair in the image, from which the subject has fallen, that plus the crown reverts back to the king analogies that are prevalent in graffiti culture, being the best artist of one area or city.” Matthew Dawn
Gaia painted his large mural entitled “Requiem for Migrants, Requiem for the Liberal Order.”. The mural included a lifejacket with Red Poppies and Carnations hovering above the North Sea. The mural is adjacent to the austere ‘Seamen’s Memorial’ (1954) by sculptor Willy Kreitz.
Wasp Elder painted ‘Leonie La fontaine'( 1857- 1949) Who is a Belgian pioneer feminist and pacifist. She was active in the international feminism struggle and was a member of the women’s international league for peace and freedom. The image is based on a photograph taken of her and her friend.
Polish artist Sainer, from Etam Cru, painted his mural entitled “Podkarpacie”, a province in southeastern Poland. The area boasts lush nature and a varied landscape where numerous historic sites testify to the region’s multicultural past. Almost half of the province is made up of protected areas in the form of 10 scenic parks, around 100 nature reserves and 17 landscape protection areas. There are also around 1,500 sites designated as natural monuments and the province is home to two national parks.
Colectivo Licuado photorealistic mural is stunning. The duo give reference to the coastal city of Ostend. The standing red haired lady on the right is the ‘Storm’, with the strength and the energy. The brown haired lady sat down is the ‘Sea’, calm and peaceful…
“The encounter of the storm and calm, the coexistence of the different personalities living in one and the pursuit of balance within us, the coexistence of the human with the wisely changing nature. The Wall painted it in Belgium, Ostend, a port city, where they can understand perfect what it is to expect the storm and what is to wait for calm.” Colectivo Licuado
Iranian brothers Icy and Sot left two installations in Ostend with references to the refugee crisis, each with a strong social and political message. The one below can be found on the beach.
Oak Oak left many fun and clever artworks around the city, playing perfectly with the environment he finds himself in.
A Squid called Sebastian paints a mural referencing the surprising gentrification of the city. New modern apartments are being built overlooking the water, with most sold as second homes.
Zoer and Velvet mural includes multiple chairs and a steering wheel …
Stencil artist Jaune leaves his workmen around the city. Juane is now the festivals mascot and his previous stencils can be seen across Ostend. This one reads “I like the Director”.
Telmo Miel embraced the few days of rain within Miel’s mural.
Hope you enjoyed the recap of The crystal ship. There are more murals and installations for you to find from this years edition. We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent in Ostend for the street art festival. A big thank you to Bjørn and his team for such a warm welcome. See you next year!