Ostend prepares for The Crystal Ship annual outdoor art festival
22 March 2023
Ostend has been home to The Crystal Ship open-air art festival since 2016 when Belgian curator and author Bjørn Van Poucke was approached to initiate a fair showcasing street art. Every year, world-renowned artists are invited to create large murals, sculptures, and installations that can be viewed on a free walking or cycling tour around the coastal city. While Van Poucke does bring in big names from the art world, he also focuses on providing a platform for lesser-known artists.
From March 27th until April 8th, artists will create their work on-site. On April 8th, the pieces will be finished and opened to the public. Spectators can bike or walk the art trail using a free downloadable map, a chatbox guide through Facebook Messenger (only available in Dutch), or by booking a guided tour with an expert.
“An art festival that is quickly becoming one of the major annual street art events in the world”
In 2018, the US art magazine Juxtapoz described The Crystal Ship as “an art festival that is quickly becoming one of the major annual street art events in the world”. Amongst the international roster of participants this year is Belgian artist Jaune from Brussels whose work focuses on the aspect of visible versus invisible service. His experience working in the sanitation sector inspired him to represent how oftentimes workers fade into the background in public and crowded spaces. He urges the viewer to observe what their relationship is to workers in this field.
This annual fair is not only for the public to view art, but also aims to showcase Ostend. The city’s former mayor, Johan Vande Lanotte says this event brings both people from out of town and residents together. “The Crystal Ship editions have proved that art in Ostend is right there next to you, accessible, and this has been enormously appreciated,” he states.
More information about The Crystal Ship art festival can be found on their website:
HM ©BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER