Some might say there’s not much to look at in Ostend, Belgium. Its long sandy beach has been a draw for hundreds of years, and it has spent time as one of Europe’s most stylish seaside retreats; bombed to buggery in WWII, though, and rebuilt with a lack of character, these days the old fortified port town doesn’t have much of a rep as a looker.
Not until The Crystal Ship sailed into town. Harnessing the positive energy that contemporary street art brings with it, curator Bjørn Van Poucke has collaborated with the city of Ostend to bring the work of an impressive roster of leading international artists to its urban space; over 20 murals and some 200 smaller interventions cropping up over a two week period.
Making waves during this year’s Easter holidays, Van Poucke’s Crystal Ship brought with it street art talents like Roa, Pixelpancho, Cyrcle, Agostino Iacurci, and Guido Van Helten; creating permanent mural work and a series of temporary installations — both impressive in appearance and scale: ‘nowhere else in Europe have so many artists in this genre been brought together for a joint arts festival,’ explains lead man Bjørn Van Poucke, ‘right in the centre of the city, the place where people live and work. That is pretty unique.’