TOUR ELENTRIK DIEST
A concept created in collaboration with Diest (a city in Belgium) where electricity boxes are painted with artwork by locals, amateur artists and organizations. We were there to coordinate, teach and support the participants during the entire project. The participants were extremely diverse and ranged from 10-70 years old: Pupils and students from elementary and high schools, college students, local artists and professionals, and mentally/mobility impaired people. The result: more color in the streets, less vandalism and overjoyed participants!
What started out as a call for artists, ended up in a town buzzing with comments and compliments. The ever-so culturally entwined city of Diest invited us to coordinate a project in the framework of 'the week of amateur arts', a yearly returning event that is hosted throughout all provinces of Flanders.
After a few get-togethers to discuss the concept and coordination of this project, it was clear we had a lot more work on our hands than was initially planned. But as they say: the more the merrier! We put our heads and hands together to start the preparations for painting more than 40 electricity boxes. Local artists, amateurs, young volunteers, and even school kids and their teachers gathered around to see how they could participate.
They were asked to create a design aligning with 'nature' and 'ecology'. It would certainly color the city like never before. For the ones that had never touched a paintbrush or a spray can, we hosted an evening-workshop to learn the basics and some fine tricks that were immediately useful for field-work. This field of course, was nothing less than the streets of a city full of heritage, called Diest: a truly interesting town, with extremely friendly inhabitants and visitors.
As we were working each day out in the streets, we received loads of compliments from passers-by. Everyone thought and said it was such a good initiative from the city, to finally brighten up these ugly grey and vandalized power boxes. And just because of that, dear reader, it makes you want to turn every city in the world into something a little bit more bearable than the usual grey mass that holds no feeling.
Our own challenge was working with mobility impaired people, who wanted to participate as part of their daytime arts activities. It's not easy for them to handle spray cans or paint brushes, so we were out there with them to be the helping hand and support in their process of creating their own first street art piece. For them it was a truly unique event, and for us it was a delight to see that they were having so much fun!
In the two weeks we were present in the city we worked together with many local artists, some of which are so talented they could be out there with the big guns. Each day we saw another work of art being completed, showing more and more how a city can change by creating these little interventions.
To wrap everything up with even more positive vibes, the city hosted a reception where all participants and friends could see what everyone had accomplished (and of course to have a beer, we’re still in Belgium you know). A presentation with works that were created on the outskirts of the city was shown on the big screen, and soon after that we ventured out into the center of town with about 40 people to see where the new artworks were located. At that moment, the first street art tour in this city was born, hence the name Tour Elentrik (a colloquial for ‘electricity tour’)
A big shout out to all the participants: the people of Martine van Camp VZW and Ak’cent, the kids and coordinators of Arktos VZW, elementary schools De Kleine Prins and GBS Deurne, the local artists (Roy, Mia, Kristof, Hajni, Sam & Niels), and two of our very own Treepack artists Linez & Tuzq.
Furthermore we owe our gratitude to the cultural department of Diest – they invited us over to make this little wonder happen – and the ‘groendienst’ for cleaning and preparing all the boxes in order to get a smooth start with the painting activities.