Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

Prinsjesdag in Blauw en Goud in the Atrium, City Hall, Den Haag

Prinsjesdag in Blauw en Goud in the Atrium, City Hall, Den Haag

The art installation ‘Prinsjesdag in Blauw and Goud’ by artist Wilma van der Meyden can be viewed from Tuesday 25 August to Tuesday 15 September 2015 in the Atrium, City Hall, Den Haag.

Prinsjesdag signifies democracy, freedom and peaceful living. Prinsjesdag, or Budget Day, falls every year, on the third Tuesday of September. On this day King Willem-Alexander gives a speech indicating the policy of the Government for the coming year. This day is associated with splendour, pomp and ceremony. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will travel at exactly 1.00pm, in the famous Golden Coach, from the Palace in Noordeinde, Den Haag, to the Dutch Parliament building, the Binnenhof, a short distance away. The Golden Coach travels along the Lange Voorhout, one of the most beautiful streets within the centre of the City and one of the best places from which to watch and take part in this parade. Imagine for a moment the splendour not only of the Golden Coach and the royal entourage but the traditions of the ladies hats; the briefcase carried by the Finance Minister; the crowds of residents and visitors who come to Den Haag especially to enjoy and take part in this historic annual event.

This year the City of Den Haag will be the focus for a number of cultural events celebrating, not only Prinsjesdag, but also Mozart as it is 250 years since Mozart lived in the city ( ). During the weeks leading up to Prinsjesdag, visitors to the Atrium, in the City Hall in Den Haag, will be greeted by a larger-than-life art installation, a painted parade, representing people from all walks of life taking part in the Prinsjesdag festivities.  Viewers cannot help becoming a part of this parade, perhaps contemplating their own role as citizens as they walk along the royal blue carpet leading them through the atrium.

This art installation, created by artist Wilma van der Meyden, consists of 52 sketches in oil on wooden panels. Each panel is 3 metres tall and 1.5 metres wide. The figures are painted expressively using a limited colour range of blues with gold accents on white backgrounds. Mounted on podiums in the atrium, the figures call to mind giant friezes – visually linked by the central royal blue carpet.  Black cast-iron benches from the Lange Voorhout, have been placed in the atrium space as part of the piece, and serve as a direct link to the majestic street along which the Golden Coach travels from the Palace Noordeinde to the Binnenhof each year.

The work was designed and constructed specifically for this site with support from Atrium City Hall to create a celebratory and visual expression of Prinsjesdag for the public to enjoy. Many people may never have seen the parade but can still enjoy the splendour of the event if they visit the atrium. The concept has its roots in a series of small oil paintings which Wilma, born and raised in South Africa, painted in 2011 based on her first impressions of Prinsjesdag following her arrival in Den Haag as a new resident back in 1998.

“Some people walk through the spacious Atrium City Hall on their daily commute, others come for business, for civic affairs or even by chance – many more will come from near and far to celebrate ‘Prinsjesdag’ in The Hague. May this hand painted parade greet each one and take them on their own personal walkabout.”– Wilma van der Meyden, May 2015

As you might imagine, an exhibition of this scale has not been created quickly or easily. Painting of the panels has taken many months following many more months of planning, sketching and preparing. The sheer scale of each panel has represented its own challenge – where might you house 52 of them! In this respect Wilma has had the support of her husband Alan, family and friends and not least her neighbour and landlord who has provided studio and storage space as the project has grown and developed from Wilma’s first visit to the Prinsjesdag celebrations many years ago. Her determination to succeed and to make the installation a success for everyone to enjoy is obvious, from the smallest detail of recreating the famous ‘briefcase’ to the artist’s quiz for children to enjoy and to enhance their interaction with the artwork.

This is an exhibition not to be missed. More to 50,000 visitors are expected to see the art installation as they walk through the spacious atrium of Den Haag City Hall.  Entrance is free.

For more information about the artist and the exhibition, visit her website or the