On the facade of the Candico factory building along the renovated Burgemeester Gabriel Theunisbrug on the Albert Canal in Antwerp, street artist Djoels (Julie Bouckhuyt) started this week with a work of art as a tribute to Julie Van Espen, who was murdered nearby. The project is part of a broader initiative by, among others, the city of Antwerp to beautify the neighborhood and in this way make it more attractive and safer.
Julie Van Espen was killed in May 2019 when she was on her way to friends by bicycle. Her death caused a shock wave of emotions, expressed in, among other things, a silent march through the city and a vigil near the site of the murder. The idea quickly surfaced to create a tribute for the girl in the form of a graffiti mural. Tattoo artist and Ink Master winner Djoels volunteered and started work on her artwork on Sunday.
The graffiti mural will not be a portrait of Julie or a political message, but an image that reflects “hope, strength and a worthy memory of all victims of unnecessary violence”. Consultations were also held with Julie’s next of kin.
“The story touched me personally, because I am regularly confronted with similar stories,” says Djoels. “I am a very sensitive person and as a woman this theme is close to my heart. I try to put the feeling of vulnerability, impotence and hope in my work. ”