Written by Josée Thissen-Rojer
From Thursday, November 25th to Sunday, November 28th, Princess Beatrix visited Curaçao. In addition to her official program, which focused on nature conservation and nature education, she privately visited two local art projects. On Saturday evening, Princess Beatrix went to Herman van Bergen’s Cathedral of Thorns, and on Sunday she visited the Blue Bay sculpture garden.
Princess Beatrix’s visit to the Blue Bay sculpture garden was informal and not widely publicized. The board of the foundation was approached in advance by the organizers of the royal visit. The route and the number of artists to be invited were determined in collaboration with board member Ingenie Dammers. Board member Ellen Spijkstra shows Princess Beatrix around while they are seated in a golf cart. Ellen is familiar with all the works of art there, and she also knows the artists. That’s why she’s the right person to fulfill this role. After the event, Amigoe talks to Ellen about the royal visit.
Visual artist Yubi Kirindongo is present at the request of Princess Beatrix, says Ellen. There are 3 of Yubi’s statues included in the sculpture garden. Of these, the most striking work is the floating ‘B’ in the pond of the golf course. Yubi has some ‘history’ with the royal family. In 2011, he receives Princess Beatrix, then still queen, at his home, along with her son and daughter-in-law. The monograph “Yubi Kirindongo. Rebel in Art and Soul.”, includes photos of this visit. It also includes the story about the group exhibition ‘Arte di nos e ta’ in the Central Bank, in 2002, in which Yubi also participated. The event opening was performed by the governor, in the presence of (then) Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima. However, security at the bank denied Yubi access, because of his eccentric dress style. But in any case, Yubi is definitely present during this visit.
Recycle artist Roberto Tjon A Meeuw created a work of art in the parking lot at the beach during the last Open Atelier Route in June 2021. Together with a group of children from the Blenchi school and with the assistance of Alex van Dijk, he has created a type of sea creature from washed-up materials. The organizers of the royal visit thought that this work fits in very well with the nature theme of the overall program. That’s why Roberto is one of the two artists who’s allowed to provide an in-person explanation to the princess during the tour. Roberto has made several such works. At Parke Leyba in Scharloo, among others, there’s another art piece by him which is constructed from washed-up materials and plastic.
Another stop is made to admire the work of Avantia Damberg. The artist is present at her ‘Map of Curaçao’ to explain her work to the princess. It is the third ‘Map’ that Avantia has made, and on this one, family names are written on pieces of finger coral. Another ‘Map of Curaçao’ hangs at Kranshi Nobo, in Otrobanda. It’s a map of Curaçao, made up of family names. These are placed where they first appeared. Besides the fact that Avantia has one of her works of art displayed at Blue Bay, she regularly acts as a guide there, and she also helped create the first website for the foundation, explains Ellen.