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Life of Steen

Artist Blog by Ingeborg Everaerd

This is a story of a man who chose to be a nomad for life from the age of 13 and remained true to this promise until his recent death. It is a story about freedom and human resilience.

I bumped into Steen on a stormy day in March 2019. Both walking our dogs. I immediately felt intrigued by his characteristic appearance, his friendly eyes, and his soft way of speaking. Steen had moored his ship that weekend at a dock in Amsterdam and he invited me over.

Curious as I was, I accepted the invitation which was the beginning of our friendship.

I cherish the many stories he shared and the adventurous life he led. His independence, making the ship self-sufficient, allowed him the freedom to move it wherever he felt at home. Our shared passion for photography deepened our friendship. Steen revealed his past as a photographer in the ’60s and ‘70s, but he preferred the spontaneity of living day by day, often changing jobs.

A year after I first met him, Steen had to give up this way of life because of his declining health, old age, and financial constraints, leading him to sell his beloved ship, which had been his home for almost 43 years.

Always afraid of life ashore, he now lives in his old camper van on a piece of land without running water and electricity. This land belongs to his ex-wife and her husband. Here, he tries to build a new, self-sustaining life and find a sense of home. However, his yearning for his old life persists. After Steen's presence became too much for the owners of the land, they forced him to leave his self-created paradise. With the help of a good friend, Steen was able to move to a piece of land behind a large empty farm somewhere in the middle of the country. The remains of various cancers and surgeries haven't knocked him out yet, but Steen has no energy left to again create a new paradise, new dreams, or new adventures.

As I look at him, searching for that old sparkle in his eyes, his sense of freedom seems to have vanished, like a bird that lost its wings.

On January 13, 2024, Steen passed away in his trusted camper, just as he wished. He remained true to his promise to be a nomad for life.

In the weeks leading up to his death, Steen, with help from friends and family, planned his entire funeral. The card was ready, and his spot in the cemetery had already been chosen. The large, empty barn had been transformed into a unique space where he wanted friends and family to celebrate and remember him.

I miss my dear friend greatly, but I am infinitely grateful to have had the opportunity to know such a unique, kind, loving, and intelligent man. I am happy to share his uniqueness through my work with anyone who wants to get to know Steen and the inspiring way he lived his life.

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