Home Featured The streets are fields that never die: The Crystal Ship 2018’s logbook

The streets are fields that never die: The Crystal Ship 2018’s logbook

20 April 2018

dourone the crystal ship 2018The Crystal Ship 2018 > “The Crystal Ship is being filled”

“It’s nice to see a familiar face,” I said as I hugged Wasp Elder. It was my first time at The Crystal Ship street art festival in Oostende: I didn’t know anyone, I was unfamiliar with the city, and given my notorious social awkwardness, I was feeling a bit lost. All I had with me was a map I got from the Visit Oostende tourist office, which quickly became soaked under the Belgian rain.

However, the map did get me through my first tour of the murals and I walked my way through Oostende, crossing paths with Camilo and Florencia, from Colectivo Licuado, who were leaving their wall after a long day of painting in the rain.
colectivo licuado The Crystal Ship 2018From there I went to Matthew Dawn, who happened to still be immersed in his blue, dreamlike background, as if he himself was the self-portrait he was painting.
matthew dawn The Crystal Ship 2018After dinner, I joined The Crystal Ship’s crew at the HQs, a big open downtown space with comfy couches and plenty of Belgian beers, a place where the atmosphere was always so cool that it happened to be mistaken for a bar by locals several times during that week, despite the display of brushes, rolls, spray cans, and stencils that were scattered about in the middle of the room. Everybody was chilling out, clothes caked with paint and soaked by rain. Someone was playing video games, another was scrolling their phone, and some were even flying paper airplanes.
As for me, I sat down with Wasp Elder to catch up over a beer. He told me about his three-month art residency in India (I’m publishing the whole story soon: stay tuned!) and about the piece he was going to paint in Oostende for The Crystal Ship 2018: a portrait of Loire La Fontaine, a Belgian pioneer feminist whose story of international feminism and struggle immediately came to mind when he was invited to paint a wall at the renowned Belgian festival.
wasp elder The Crystal Ship 2018Eventually, I mingled with everybody and got to meet many interesting people, people who I now hold dear to my heart. But that night, that one time, all I needed was one familiar face in Oostende.

The Crystal Ship 2018 > Day 1

After hunting for the murals made during the previous years, I found Miel‘s painting on the surrounding wall of the hippodrome. He did this piece without Telmo (something he enjoys to do from time to time since it gives him the chance to experiment). The piece he painted in Oostende this year is made up of two different murals at the opposite ends of a long wall, and at this point of the week Miel was working on the first wall, painting a face onto a green background.
TelmoMiel The Crystal Ship 2018
TelmoMiel The Crystal Ship 2018

Miel looking at his second wall for The Crystal Ship 2018

It surprised me that he was already working on some details of the countenance while part of the wall was still without paint, but Miel explained to me that he always needs to get the face first because then the rest of the piece will flow from there.
TelmoMiel The Crystal Ship 2018After this tiny, yet pleasant, insight into TelmoMiel’s artistic process, I went to checkout Matthew Dawn’s mural which he had finished the day before. This work is part of his “Paper Crowns” series, which is all about fleeting fame and how we nurture our egos. Although, I personally see a daydreaming kid looking up at the clouds.
Matthew Dawn The Crystal Ship 2018
There I met Bjorn, the organizer of the festival, who suggested that I should get a bicycle as The Crystal Ship’s murals are scattered around the city and the whole artistic trail on the tourist map is almost 40 kilometres long.
However, I stubbornly kept walking as far as a small park where Sainer, from the Polish duo Etam Cru, was putting the final touches on his piece. Sainer’s mural for The Crystal Ship 2018 is titled “Podkarpacie,” which is a rural area in Southern Poland where he’s from.
Etam Cru Sainer The Crystal Ship 2018
Sainer Etam Cru The Crystal Ship 2018
From there I walked to Gaia’s wall, who was taking final pictures of his mural. Gaia’s piece pays homage to migrants and it is titled “Requiem for Migrants, Requiem for the Liberal Order.” Gaia was on the lift with Fifth Wall TV’s Doug, and although they were pretty high, the whole neighbourhood could hear their hilarious jokes.
Gaia The Crystal Ship 2018
gaia The Crystal Ship 2018
A few blocks away, I found Ben Slow who had just sketched Jeannine and Jean, an elderly couple from Oostende that symbolized his idea of everlasting love. Ben was painting the man’s countenance, dripping grey paint down his five-storey wall.
Ben Slow The Crystal Ship 2018
Ben Slow The Crystal Ship 2018 Ben Slow The Crystal Ship 2018While I was approaching the pier to take the ferry that led to the other side of the harbor, a storm erupted. As I found out the hard way, the weather in Oostende can shift suddenly from clear skies to heavy rain in the blink of an eye, but luckily that also works the other way around. Shortly after the brief storm, I was back the hitting up the streets, heading to Miel’s piece once again.
telmomiel The Crystal Ship 2018There I found out that the color palette of the mural had turned warmer during the day, shifting from a greenish tone to a brownish color with hints of dusty rose. With this twist, the piece looked more peaceful: I really liked where he was going with that.
telmomiel The Crystal Ship 2018When it was getting dark, I headed to the HQs where Sainer, who is a true football fan, was picking up people to go to a pub to watch some very important game. While the South Americans were chilling out sipping mate, the French artist OakOak suddenly felt inspired by the shadow projected onto the ceilings from an old lampshade. Ten minutes later, the unofficial mascot of The Crystal Ship 2018 joined the family.
The Crystal Ship 2018

The Crystal Ship 2018 > Day 2

It might have been the music she was listening to, but Milu Correch was spreading warm, Southern American vibes as she softly caressed the wall with her brush. She was painting one of her iconic scenes: a crushed car with two masked figures on top of it.
milu correct The Crystal Ship 2018While I was there, the owner of the shop next door came out to compliment her on the work. It is a beautiful work of art indeed, and I especially like the rusty feeling of the color palette she chose.
milu correch The Crystal Ship 2018When I arrived at the Colectivo Licuado’s wall, Florencia was having lunch sitting in front of their mural. It was her turn that day for using the lift and so she was painting the face of the woman on the left, while Camilo painted the face of the woman on the right the day before. I sat next to her and gazed to the face painted by Camilo: I was really impressed by how detailed it was. To overcome the trickiness of a brick wall, Camilo used the actual bricks as if they were a grid, therefore detailing the countenance virtuously. The mural depicts two women holding up a ship; the dichotomy between calm and storm.
colectivo licuado The Crystal Ship 2018 colectivo licuado The Crystal Ship 2018A couple of blocks further, A Squid Called Sebastian was about to begin to work on his wall when I trapped him into a long conversation about the family trips through Italy he had during his childhood, the tattoo parlour he runs in Gent, and his “spraycations” in Miami during Art Basel. Eventually, he grabbed a can and began spraying on the bottom of his mural, drawing freehand the net that the main character is holding on a starry night.
A squid called sebastian The Crystal Ship 2018
A squid called Sebastian The Crystal Ship 2018 A squid called Sebastian The Crystal Ship 2018 A squid called Sebastian The Crystal Ship 2018 A squid called Sebastian The Crystal Ship 2018
After lunch I finally made it to the other side of the harbor, where I was surprised to find Matthew Dawn on yet another lift. He was mentoring Chiara Daneels, a 19-year-old woman who was painting her very first mural after winning a competition of young talents held by The Crystal Ship.
chiara daneels The Crystal Ship 2018 chiara daneels The Crystal Ship 2018There was one more artist hard at work on that side of the harbor, the Belgian Joachim. He was painting a huge mural depicting a sailor tangled up in a rope. The piece is inspired by an old man he once met on a tram in Oostende, who used to be a sailor but stopped going out into the open seas once he retired; when he became a “prisoner on land.” These specific words stuck in Joachim’s head, and when he was invited to The Crystal Ship he immediately knew what he was going to paint.
joachim The Crystal Ship 2018
joachim The Crystal Ship 2018
At this stage, Joachim had already painted the main figure and was working at the rope wrapping around it, representing the thoughts that, like an anchor, have the sailor stuck on the ground.
joachim The Crystal Ship 2018 joachim The Crystal Ship 2018Back downtown, it was time to pay a visit to the Andromeda is not far away exhibition at the EXPO18 Art Gallery, which is curated by the Amsterdam-based street art gallery Vroom & Varossieau. The show features artwork by several urban artists from Cranio to L’Atlas and from D*Face to Jaune, the latter being the author of the work of art that I liked the most.
jaune exhibition gallery The Crystal Ship 2018

The Crystal Ship 2018 > Day 3

Blessed with the sunshine, by Day 3 most artists had made tremendous progress on their walls. The mural that changed the most was the one done by the Spanish duo Dourone, which was finally revealing itself as the colourful portrait of a woman. I was so impressed by this beautiful piece that I dared to ring the bell of the building opposite just so I could snap a picture that would do justice to its full beauty.
durone The Crystal Ship 2018dourone The Crystal Ship 2018Day 3 was also the day when I surrendered and got on a bike. Being from Rome, I’m not used to considering the bike as an actual mode of transportation, but unlike Rome, Oostende has proper bike lanes on every road plus a scenic promenade along the beach, which make it super easy to make your way around the city. And so after lunch I met with Milu Correch and we cycled together to her mural, which she finished the day before. While biking around, I found out that she speaks fluent Italian, since she fell in love with Italy when she painted a wall in Sapri. She had kept visiting ever since.
milu correch The Crystal Ship 2018Then I went to Matthew Dawn, who kindly offered a ride on his lift to all the photographers who wanted to take a picture of his mural from above.
matthew dawn The Crystal Ship 2018
matthew dawn The Crystal Ship 2018
For as much as I love street art, it was time to take a break from it. And so I visited the Modern Art Museum “Mu.ZEE”, to write an article about what to do in Oostende besides checking out street art. Then I took a walk around the cute terraced houses in the city center and ended up at the beach for a well-deserved and painfully-earned-after-a-whole-day-of-cycling portion of Belgian fries.
oostende

Oostende is cute!

Belgian fries

The Crystal Ship 2018 > Day 4

The next morning I arrived at the HQs just in time to join Oak Oak at one of his painting missions, during which he cleverly plays with mundane objects in the streets. When we arrived at a side road next to Wapen Plein, he unfolded his pedestrian stripes, laid them down, and framed them with tape to define the areas that he was going to paint white.
oak oak The Crystal Ship 2018 oak oak The Crystal Ship 2018 oak oak The Crystal Ship 2018
oak oak The Crystal Ship 2018From there I went to Ben Slow’s mural, which was slowly, but amazingly, coming to life.
ben slow The Crystal Ship 2018
I’m not sure how it is for those who are actually in a long-term relationship, but for singles obsessed with romance like me the thought of being looking into each other’s eyes that way after having spent a life together is The Dream; something that Ben has stunningly depicted on a wall for The Crystal Ship 2018. Every time I walked past it, that piece touched me. I tried to photograph it from every angle, it left me stunned.
ben slow The Crystal Ship 2018 ben slow The Crystal Ship 2018 Around lunch, my fellow street art bloggers arrived in Oostende. We had our street art blogger gang reunion at Leonard Park, where the Iranian brothers Icy and Sot were setting up one more provocative installation for The Crystal Ship 2018: a politically-charged piece about the refugee crisis.
icy and sot The Crystal Ship 2018
icy and sot The Crystal Ship 2018icy and sot The Crystal Ship 2018As the sun reflected on the water of a picturesque lake, with a tiny stone bridge and dizzying scented flowers, life jackets floated lifeless around a vacant boat.
icy and sot The Crystal Ship 2018 From there we went to the beach, which was crowded with people chilling out, flying kites, listening to music, or even walking through “An Open Door,” the installation that Icy and Sot created earlier that week, which speaks against anti-immigration policies.
icy and sot The Crystal Ship 2018 After dinner I walked around the city center with the French artist Manyoly and her iconic multi-colored portraits.
manyoly oostendeOnce the pasting-up mission was accomplished, we joined the others at the Spanish bar. They were already partying hard. Someone was wearing a cowboy hat and some didn’t even wear t-shirts, but eventually everyone joined in on the dance floor.

The Crystal Ship 2018 > Day 5

The sky was so blue that I couldn’t resist a second artistic trail. It was my last day in Oostende, and I wanted to enjoy every different area of the city one last time. When I arrived at the final stop, I was flushed yet happy. My eyes were full of the beauty from all the murals I had seen.
wasp elder The Crystal Ship 2018That last one, though, was special to me. I was really looking forward to seeing one more piece by Wasp Elder come to life, and judging by the eyes of the owners of the house on which he painted, I wasn’t the only one.
wasp elder The Crystal Ship 2018

The owner of the house offers a Belgian beer to Wasp Elder

wasp elder The Crystal Ship 2018

Wasp Elder celebrating with the owners of the house

After The Crystal Ship 2018 officially launched, all of the artists gathered at the HQs to celebrate. Someone had cleaned up, someone was still covered with paint, but they all looked content and quite sunburnt. Kegs were tapped and sketchbooks were drawn in: it was our last party together and we wanted to do it right.

Ben Slow beer the crystal ship

Cheers to Ben Slow!

joachim The Crystal Ship 2018

Joachim sketching

The Crystal Ship 2018

Camilo sketching

I sat on a couch with a barely awake Jaune and found out that he speaks fluent Italian since he has lived in Northern Italy for a while, although he would have preferred to live in the sunny South because -to put it in his words- “Brianza [the area around Milan] is like Belgium with pasta.”
jaune The Crystal Ship 2018

Photo by Mark Rigney (Hookedblog)

jaune The Crystal Ship 2018
jaune oak oak The Crystal Ship 2018

Jaune + Oak Oak @ The Crystal Ship 2018

jaune The Crystal Ship 2018
Now he is back to living in Belgium though, focusing on pushing his work further every day. It is quite easy to witness the evolution of Jaune’s work in Oostende, since he is a regular guest at The Crystal Ship festival. Wandering around the city, I stumbled upon his stencils from different years, from the time when he was setting up a scene on a background to his latest challenge of telling a story with just one character.
jaune oostende The Crystal Ship

An early piece by Jaune in Oostende

jaune The Crystal Ship 2018

Jaune @ The Crystal Ship 2018

It was around 11pm when I had the first of many “last” beers. My legs were hurting after two days of cycling, and watching people dancing was painfully reminding me of the aching muscles I didn’t even know I had until the day when I first got on a bike. So I sat at the long wooden table and chatted around. And just like that, it was suddenly 5am.
Just like that, it was time to say goodbye.

The Crystal Ship 2018 > “We’ll meet again, we’ll meet again”

The Crystal Ship 2018

Matthew Dawn saying goodbye

 *quotes are from The Door’s song “The Crystal Ship,” after which the festival is named.

More photos from The Crystal Ship 2018 here:

At last, I made it to The Crystal Ship :) The line-up is amazing, and I'm also trying to catch up with all the murals…

Posted by Blocal • Travel & Street Art blog on 2018 m. balandis 3 d.

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