Discovering and painting an abandoned village in Belgium. Today's story is magical and bleak for the artist Jiem.
One rainy afternoon in September, we leave Lille with Grolou, Flavia and Emer.K towards Belgium. We stopped in Gent, where we had to meet Roa and Resto, two local painters. They are waiting for us, and the schedule for the day begins to look more attractive as we speak. They tell us about an abandoned village, about an hour away, with hundreds of walls, a magical place ...
Where is it? --> it's here!
So we head farther north to the port of Antwerp, and eventually, we arrive at Doel, our final destination. Our first striking impression was of desolation: Deserted streets, sealed windows, closed or gutted houses. It was a wasteland. Several locals still live here, as there were a few cars parked on the side of the road. There were banners in Flemish, and several squatters. On certain walls, there were beautiful paintings, by Roa and Resto for the most part. And all of this amid freight ships sliding along the river of Scheldt, before the nuclear plant and its two huge chimneys spitting out steam. But what has happened here, what is the history of this village?
Picture by wojofoto
Picture by Ardenswayoflife
Actually, "the case" of Doel is very famous in Belgium. For 40 years, the village was threatened by the expansion of the port, and during the last decade, it suddenly came to its demise. The new Port terminal was officially installed here, by this village, and residents were asked to pack their bags. But some resisted, remain in their homes and paint slogans for the survival of their village. An association was born, Doel 2020, and the artists came to support the cause by painting on the walls and creating installations. The contrast between the empty houses and the residents' resistance is striking.
It is in this strange atmosphere that we prepare to paint the same walls, in a deserted street. We break into an old garage and find paint cans that have fallen over just at the right time. I also get a hold of some old spray paint to add to my collection.
A few passers-by stop in front of the walls, delighted with what we are starting to do. Out of nowhere, a German television crew, producing a report on the village, comes to interview and film us.
Thank you to Roa and Resto for showing us this beautiful place. While it carries an uneasy feeling, it packs a punch! We will be back!
Painting by jiem realised during his discovery of Doel (picture by Kriebel):