Supporting small artists onboard Scenic’s luxury cruise ships

Artwork provides a powerful way for cruise brands to reflect the culture of the destinations they visit 

Supporting small artists onboard Scenic’s luxury cruise ships
Australian artist Mitch Gobel uses resins to create pieces that reflect the colours and movement of the ocean

By Nichola Absalom |

Now that many cruise line interior designers are striving to become more sustainable, they are increasingly looking to local artists, businesses and carpenters to source furnishings and decorate the interiors of their ships. For example, when designing our new 228-guest ultra-luxury discovery yacht, Scenic Eclipse, we carefully sourced every inch of materials on the ship to ensure that it is unique, relevant and sustainable. Selecting the right artist and artwork is a hugely important part of this process and we are among many cruise lines seeking inspiration from small, local artists that are relevant to the destinations our ships visit.  

The artwork and soft furnishings onboard a cruise ship can be vital in bringing together a vision for public spaces, and are essential to guaranteeing a relaxing, beautifully designed space for guests to enjoy. Some cruise lines have even gone as far as to appoint a dedicated art curator to build gallery-worthy art collections onboard. The sheer number of individual artworks on even a small ship can be astounding – and it is with this that the industry can really make a difference in supporting the arts, particularly small artists.  

When designing our many public areas onboard Scenic Eclipse, the artwork was hand-selected by our expert interior design team to feature one-off pieces from artists around the world. The art onboard is varied, ranging from incredible resin art by Mitch Gobel – an Australian artist from Byron Bay – to an amazing geisha from British graffiti artist Carl Hush.  

Gobel’s beautiful work reflects the colours and movement of the ocean and exhibits a passion for life and the environment, which is at the very essence of the design of Scenic Eclipse. When curating the artwork collection for the discovery yacht, we commissioned three original artworks and chose a selection of 124 prints to display in all the ship’s suites. These pieces are all from Gobel alone and Scenic Eclipse currently owns the largest collection of his abstract resin work – an honour we’re incredibly proud of.   

Choosing an Australian artist was incredibly important for Scenic as an Australian-owned company. We wanted our artwork collection to feature something uniquely and expressly Australian to reflect our heritage. Gobel’s work is a true reflection of the incredible talent in the country and demonstrates the pride of Scenic’s origins.   

Meanwhile, Hush’s geishas feature prominently in the stunning Koko’s restaurant onboard Scenic Eclipse. Focusing on the female form by depicting the beauty and sensuality of the geishas through traditional colours and modern graffiti style, Hush’s work was selected to perfectly complement the warmth and subdued atmosphere of the ship design.  

The Newcastle-born artist draws influence from graphic novels, animation and the evanescent quality of street art. Hush’s mix of crazy anime-inspired characters and pop-infused imagery creates a fascinating commentary on urban culture and has been described as urban abstract pop. Hush has worked throughout Asia, Europe and the USA – all key destinations for us as a brand. His interest and immersion in diverse cultures has informed his art which is recognisable for its cross-cultural influences.  

It is important that interior designers consider how an artist’s style will fit with the ship design and atmosphere onboard – and in which areas of the vessel it should be used. For example, Scenic Eclipse features an inspirational spoon sculpture which sits outside the onboard French champagne bar Lumière. The sculpture, which is shaped like a gown, is made from 5,400 spoons and was created by artist Francois Bertrand and symbolises ‘teatime’, tying in the onboard cuisine with the heritage of this fascinating piece.  

Art is a lesser-known aspect of cruising, but it provides a way for us to give young and contemporary artists visibility and more paths to growing their presence and awareness for their art. Furthermore, the appointment of cruise ship interiors is yet another way for cruise lines to give back and invest in the local communities, both where they come from and where they visit. Finally, it allows us to surround our guests with original art to enrich the overall cruise experience and create moments of enchantment along the way.   

Nichola Absalom is director of global brand and marketing at Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.  

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