Guest Blog Post by Joan Blackman, Partner in ICArt Holding and Director of the ICArt Miami office. Joan also acts as the overall Project Manager for RCL projects.
For those of you out there who are interested in art, Allure of the Seas is a virtual treasure trove! In fact, nearly all Royal Caribbean International cruise ships are decorated with great art collections – more art than people see on most vacations. Royal Caribbean has the largest art collection at sea, and it is all on their ships for guests to enjoy everywhere they look.
Over the past 20 years, International Corporate Art (ICArt), an art advisory company with offices in Miami, Oslo, London and Turku, Finland, has created the art collections for 19 of Royal Caribbean’s newest ships as well as a great number of ship refurbishments. I have one of the greatest jobs in the world – imagine combing the world for great artists who create quality, intriguing artworks – all to be assembled on beautiful cruise ships. These projects are true labors of love for both Royal Caribbean and ICArt.
It generally takes two to three years to develop an art collection for a ship. Typically when one ship is completed, installed and sailing away, we are already in the throes of developing the concept for the next one. RCL management is very involved in the process – all the way from approving the initial concept to individual art pieces. ICArt works together with the ship’s architects and designers as well – all in the hopes of capturing their desired look and feel for the spaces they are designing. It is a real collaboration.
Each ship has its own personality – and the artwork program helps create that personality which we call the “red thread.” A red thread is the theme or general concept for the art collection – a way for us to guide the creative process and art selection. Imagine the amount of art pieces onboard. Just on Allure alone, there are 9,660 individual art pieces which represents over 60 tons of art! Of course, that includes all of the staterooms and suites with just over 8,000 pieces, but just in the public spaces alone, there are over 1,600 pieces of art. The red thread helps create a method to the madness of managing a project with this amount of art.
The art collections onboard the two newest sister ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas, are closely tied together – The Wonder of our World! For Oasis, we explore the Natural World and on Allure, we present the Cultures of our World – all through amazing and unique artwork by international artists who have been influenced by the wonders of our world.
On Allure, the four stairwells, each with 17 decks, feature art in all mediums, and depict cultural elements from both Eastern and Western hemispheres. Each deck focuses on different aspects of a culture such as architecture, cuisine, traditions, etc – all seen through artists’ eyes. A careful observation of these unique and original works of art (over 275 pieces) can be a wonderful eye-opening and educational experience.
The ship’s wonderful art collection is anchored by two large site-specific installations in the forward and aft Lift Lobby openings, each spanning nearly the entire height of the vessel. These awe-inspiring installations require considerable time and resources in planning. Everyone from the client to the workers in the shipyard are intimately involved in the process – after all, these installations, along with all of the artwork onboard, must withstand the forces of a moving vessel. These art pieces look as if they were always meant to be right where they are – they float in the space and create a sense of wonder and sheer delight.
Jacob Hashimoto’s “Gateway to the Hidden Part of the Sky” is a stunning compilation of approximately 2,100 hand silk-screened discs or “kites” suspended by a grid of 146 stainless steel rods, all connected at seemingly random points. As the sculpture winds through the forward lift lobby opening, the painted discs create an undulating, constantly shifting landscape that moves from seascape to landscape to sky. The piece is every bit a marvel in engineering and construction as it is in artistic expression. The artist spent three weeks onboard with his crew, painstakingly installing every inch of the sculpture by hand.
In the aft lift lobby opening, Korean artist Keysook Geum, has created a lyrical, seductive installation entitled “Dream of Utopia”. The piece consists of 34 handmade jewel-like dresses, suspended and floating in an open space. The lighting, whether from the daylight pouring through the atrium windows or the specially designed spotlights, dances on the dresses and highlights the colored wiring and crystal beads.