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Travelling with art: The Holland America way

by Matilda Hickson

Jason Krugman’s Quad Helix sculpture on board the ms Nieuw Statendam

Once in a day, a cruise ship was just that - a cruise ship. But today, when travelling with the Holland America Line, a cruise ship is also an art gallery. Therefore it was with great pleasure that I explored their new ship, the Nieuw Statendam, having previously been mightily impressed by the artwork on their ship, the Koningsdam, back in Spring 2018.

Art has always been integral to Holland America ships, and the newest ones have been able to include more innovative and contemporary pieces than the older ships. Over 2,000 of the pieces on the Nieuw Statendam were procured especially for this new ship, and are valued between $500 to $600,000. One of the things I enjoyed most about the chosen art works was the combination of more established artists with newcomers and emerging artists. The artists also come from all around the world - there are more than 26 nationalities represented, with art works sourced from the United States and Europe to South Korea. The artists’ nationalities include American, Argentinian, Australian, Brazilian, British, Czech, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, Filipina, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, South Korean, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss and Ukrainian.

One of our goals for procuring art was to create an environment that is in keeping with the overall ship design, but also to stimulate conversation

With over 2,740 pieces of art in total, ranging from photographs and prints to sculpture and painting, the goal is to a create conversation by providing more traditional objects which are easier to love, juxtaposed with pieces that may inspire more debate. A company spokeswoman said "One of our goals for procuring art was to create an environment that is in keeping with the overall ship design, but also to stimulate conversation".

As a Van Gogh fan, a piece that caught my eye was the Van Gogh inventory:152 by French artist, Bernard Pras (left). Catagorised as a 'mixed media' piece, it is cleverly made up of everything from buttons to lego pieces. Another piece I loved was Unfold Series by Turkish artist Can Büyükberber which was a digital print on a wall cover (below).

It came as no surprise to learn that the new ship had been designed by the same team that had been in charge of the Koningsdam: the award-winning designer, Adam D. Tihany and architect and founder of the firm YSA Design/Bjørn Storbraaten. The theme for the Nieuw Statendam is entertainment, and so the criteria for the procurement of the art pieces was music and

performance. Therefore many of the works feature themes of music, dance and movement, from whimsical to still life, portraits, fashion, art history and more.

So how much do these pieces cost and how much was spent overall? One of most expensive pieces on board is the helix sculpture by Jason Krugman (above), which cost just under $175,000, and a glass sculpture of David by Daniel Anderson, which cost $55,000. The most expensive piece is Harps, a stunning sculpture in the atrium area (below). It weighs 7.5-tons and is made of stainless steel and spans three decks. Produced and designed by ArtLink, it is based on a concept by Tihany Design and cost $620,000. Altogether, the artworks are valued at $4.1 million and weigh 20.5 tons.

Three artists completed their work on site. Jason Krugman (of the Helix sculpture) and Dutch artist, Peter Gentenaar, who has a two-deck paper sculpture, were brought on board to complete their installations, while artist Sandra Spannan, produced her mural and glass works in the contractor's workshop, using materials cut specially to size.

On the Koningsdam, special white tulip photographs served as the back drop to the reception/ guest services area. This time, the mural is based on the Tin Glazed Earthernware Violin from the Rijksmuseum collection in Amsterdam. ArtLink commissioned a high-quality photo from the museum especially for the ship, as Delft earthenware is a known symbol of Dutch art, and the images of the violin were chosen to emphasise the intricate level of craftsmanship and distinctive pottery style of the Dutch. It also pays homage to the geographical and historical voyages of Dutch travellers on the Holland America Line.

In keeping with the theme of entertainment, the ship has a number of different entertainment areas for your enjoyment. Fancy some classical music or ballet? No problem, visit the Lincoln Centre Stage. Prefer to dance the night away to Van Halen? Just visit the Rolling Stone Stage. Fancy a musical or theatrical performance? Then spend your evening at the World Stage which also comes with a two-story, 270-degree wraparound LED screen surrounding you in high-definition. And of course, the ship has all that you would expect from this luxury line: a world class spa and gym, 11 restaurants (6 fine dining), a casino, outdoor movie theatre plus even a wine experience where you can mix your own vintage and a dedicated whisky bar with over 130 brands on offer.

Walking around the ship, one of my favourite things was the opportunity to inspect the art in detail on the stairwells. If I was a passenger, I think it would be hard to arrive anywhere on time, as I'd always be distracted by finding something new and exciting to look at. In one stairwell, I found stunning portraits made with feathers (above), but a portrait with funny eyes (below) really made me giggle. I later found out that the eyes had been added by a mischievous crew-member, but with the range of contemporary pieces, it fitted right in.

The cruise market offers many options for customers looking for a special holiday. There is no doubt that the luxury ships provided by the Holland America line, can match any of the top providers. But with the type of entertainment on offer on the Nieuw Statendam, I think I'd want to stay on for at least a month. But it is the art collection on this ship that really makes it stand out from the crowd.

If you love art, then this ship is for you. I don't know of anyone else who can offer such a glorious, quirky (I forgot to mention the melting guitar) and spectacular art collection that can be enjoyed whilst you are at sea. Being able to cruise with an art gallery - now that is something to add to the bucket list.


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