On the historic Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant day, 3rd June 2012, The Cultureship undertook one of her regular Salons, laden with some of  Britain’s leading contemporary artists. From her position, within the Avenue of Sail, De Walvisch and all those aboard had a unique opportunity to witness the event first hand and creatively respond directly and live to an audience of thousands on the banks of the Thames.

Amongst the artists aboard were twice Turner Prize nominated Richard Wilson RA, the godfather of installation art, famous for his Slice of Reality on the Thames and his seminal sump oil work 20:50 in the Saatchi gallery’s permanent collection. Wilson gave a ship’s horn performance, using 15 horns attached to the stern of the ship.

Hew Locke, currently showing at the National Portrait gallery in The Queen: Art and Image and who was recently commissioned to produce For Those in Peril on the Sea, for the Folkestone Triennial designed a spectacular Queen image flag that was hoisted on the ship’s main mast.

Becks Futures winner, Matt Stokes, currently working on a major commission project for the Whitechapel gallery, is researching the Bengali community of the East End and for the Cultureship event, Bengali songs from the colonial period. He brought in the singer Shahadat Hossain, who, wearing a flame red outfit sang “Those Iron Gates” by Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Doug fishbone, who has recently showed at Tate Britain (solo), the Hayward and the Serpentine gallery, ennobled himself through an internet title store (for £18.85) to become Lord of Wansley Manor. An enoblement ceremony took place on the bow deck to the watching crowds in Hermitage Gardens, Wapping.  ZATORSKI + ZATORSKI (curators of the Salon), artists who have exhibited widely including at Tate Britain, The Whitechapel Gallery and The National Gallery of Scotland, produced a special commemorative mug for the occasion. David Blandy, who won the Southbank new comers award, contributed with his video “”sons of slaves”

Z+Z also collaborated with one of Britain’s leading circus and clowning director/ performers Mitch Mitchelson, who has worked with artists from Peter Blake to Jeremy Deller, and with established aerialist and director Catrin Obsborn, to produce a spectacular aerial performance in the rigging of De Walvisch. The performance featured music from Tyburnia (Tina Grace – lead singer of Nitin Sawhney and Pete Helmer) and costumes enhanced by the Cultureships’ taxidermist in residence, Simon Wilson (who has worked on films such as the Golden Compass and Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Odysseus was strapped to the mizzen mast, the siren suspended from the bowpsrit surrounded by a flock of flapping ravens and a chorus of sirens roamed on deck whilst leeboards were dropped, gaffs raised, ropes pulled and a sea of red petals released: the performance touched on Greek myth, the transience of life and the river as an eternal force.

Special thanks go to Hermitage River Projects, a charity based on the Thames, who supported the aerial aspect of the performance.