When I am on a city trip I always look around for street art. Small pieces, big murals, I don’t care. I see charm in almost everything. Also during my weekend in Ghent I looked for street art. This Belgian city has more than 50 street art works, so I knew there was plenty to see. Ghent also the home of a couple of famous artists (like ROA) and some street art collectives (like Kapow). Ghent breathes street art and the city embraces this with the many street art events and festivals. With a local street art map in my hands I searched for the best works in Ghent. Not only did I do this in Ghent, I also looked for street art in the city of Ostend at the Belgian coast. An easy daytrip from Ghent. Twice the fun!
Ghent, the canvas city of Flanders
Because the street art in Ghent is growing, StreetArtBelgium took the initiative in 2014 to launch the Concrete Canvas Tour. This is a two hours city walk that takes tourists and visitors to 50 locations where you can see street art. You can do this route by bike (14,5 km) or by foot (7,5 km). If you are more interested in the information behind the pieces and the artists or if you don’t want to look on your own, then you could join a free street art tour that leaves every Saturday and Sunday from the Backstay Hostel.
We followed the Concrete Canvas Tour on our own and this brought us to the Werregarenstraat. This is a popular alley in the centre of Ghent where the starting artists can practice their art legally. This makes this alley one of the most colorful and brightest streets in Ghent. Because this is the place for the rookie artists don’t expect to find the best pieces in Ghent here, but still it is nice to see.
During our walk I was surprised by the art of Sorry, Not Sorry. This art project took place in the spring of 2016 and led to a couple of impressive murals in the city centre of Ghent. I especially liked the purple wall with the man and the beak. While my eye was looking for the murals, my boyfriend was charmed by the happy bubbly figures of Bué. The blue and purple color brightens up even the darkest streets of Ghent.
Ostend comes alive with The Crystal Ship
A forty minute train ride from Ghent away there is another city with great street art: Ostend. Many people know Ostend as an ordinary coastal city. You come here for the beach. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, this changed in the spring of 2016. Thanks to the street art festival ‘The Crystal Ship’ Ostend was brightened up with street art. Twenty five artists created all sorts of pieces, from big murals to small details on the streets. One of those details are the little men made by the Spanish artists Isaac Cordal. These figures are funny little notes that always pose in a different position. Calling from a balcony or cord dancing on a power cable. They are really hard to find, because they are small and high up on the wall. I only saw three during my visit, but there are probably a lot more!
You can discover the street art in Ostend by bike or by foot. At the Tourist Center at the Monaco square there is a bike route (25 km) and a walking route (8 km) available or you can download the app. I chose the walking trail and I saw some great pieces. The most impressive one was the big memorial on a parking garage by the artist Cyrcle in memory of the bombing in Brussels earlier this year. Also ROA found his way to Ostend and made a mural with sleeping (or dead?) animals piled upon each other.
Unfortunately, I had only five hours to spend in Ostend, so I was not able to see all the 22 street art pieces. The ones I would have loved to see (but didn’t) was the image of the fisherman Norbert Desmit in the harbor of Ostend and the 40 meter high piece of the Australian artist Fintan Magee on a side of a apartment block. Luckily, I have read that Ostend is planning to organize a second Crystal Ship festival in 2017, so this might be a good opportunity to visit this city for a second time.
What street art did you like in Belgium?