Our World All aboard for artwork

Viking enlists art to set the mood for a thinking person's cruise, writes GEMMA NISBET

There are two little pieces of WA aboard Viking Ocean Cruises’ ship Viking Orion. They hang near the lifts on deck three: a pair of artworks titled Perth I and Perth II, by the Norwegian artist born Sonja Haraldsen — these days better known as Queen Sonja of Norway.

The art aboard Orion has been chosen to reflect the line’s Nordic heritage, so it’s fitting to see the queen consort represented. Born a non-royal and long known for her interest in the arts, Queen Sonja has been a keen photographer since childhood and sat for Andy Warhol in the 1980s.

She started making abstract art about a decade ago, producing original prints that often draw inspiration from nature. Perth I and II, for example, depict ghostly eucalypts, and are dated 2015 — the year Queen Sonja and husband King Harald visited WA as part of a state visit.

Most of the artists represented aboard Orion are also Norwegian — some up-and-coming, some established. Among the latter is the country’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch, who is celebrated at the nightly Munch Moments in the central atrium, when music from a string duo accompanies digital renderings of his work curated by Oslo’s Munch Museum and displayed on a two-storey screen.

All of this adds to the atmosphere of refinement on board, and also provides an opportunity for learning and enrichment. Viking considers itself “the thinking person’s cruise” line — it promises, among other things, no casinos, art auctions or “umbrella drinks” on board — and has produced a free Viking Art Guide app, which passengers can download to take a tour.

That’s what I do one sea day, wandering through the public spaces to find out more about the minimalist paintings by the late Kare Tveter, for example, and Sidsel Hanum’s delicate ceramics.

Some pieces are more ancient in origin. Timber structures in the poolside Wintergarden were inspired by Yggdrasil, the tree of life in Norse mythology, whileravens watching over them represent Huginn and Muninn, associates of the god Odin.

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