A drinks party, a Mary Rose Commission and the Blind Volunteer

We have now reached  the year 2007 in my story blog.

I had been invited to a drinks party and was introduced to Rear Admiral John Lippiett who is the Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust. He asked me what kind of work I did.  I know from experience  when people find out I am an Artist, they tend to glaze over.  However,  when  John he asked  ” What are you working on?”   That question meant he was interested.

As luck would have it,  I was just finishing off the Tate Modern commission. He asked  a great deal about  my work and then asked if he could  visit the studio, which he did the following week.   The visit resulted in being offered a commission to make a tactile copy of a painting. The decision as to which one it would be, he would discuss with his staff.

The first thing John did was to organise for the staff to visit the studio, so I could tell them about the work and show  them samples.  They brought along Charlie who is one of their volunteers and is blind. They asked if Charlie could visit whilst the work was in progress. A great idea.

I was then told that they had chosen for me make a  tactile painting  of the Mary Rose ship and this was to be taken from a copy of a tiny 16th painting of the ship. I was really happy with this decision. This commission ticked all the boxes, great  people to work with, the location, a connection with a blind volunteer and my interest in history.

The task of making this painting was going to be huge. I knew it would  take about six months.  As well as the research,  I had to work out how to make the image because  it was important that people could feel the roughness of the wood, the smoothness of the cannon, the silky smooth flags, and the texture of the ropes.  It had to be able to tell a story by touch.

I also made a decision that I would involve my three grandchildren with this project. They live locally and  know the Museum. I would ask them to add the final touches to three flags, so that they could be part of the history and would have something to tell their grandchildren.

The next blog tells how Charlie moved us to tears when he first felt the painting.