In the year 2000 I was given the exciting opportunity of putting together a selection of work spanning my career to date for the Wolsey Gallery in Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich.
This continued as a travelling exhibition over the following two years that changed its content according to the venue. When I first got to know Christchurch Mansion, the redoubtable Rebecca Weaver, then exhibitions officer, took me on a grand tour of the house including the attics, cellars and all those rooms not open for various reasons to the public.
One particular room that had degenerated to being used as a furniture store amazed me, for right in the middle reaching almost to the ceiling was a model warship from the Napoleonic Wars in a huge vitrine.
This was built by a French Prisoner of War and was of the !st rate, 100 gun, HMS Royal George. When I saw the model, it had become quite dilapidated and there had already been plans to liberate it and to make it the centrepiece of a celebration of the association of Nelson with Ipswich, however, for the present it was the mouldering centrepiece of a collection of stackable seats, foldaway tables and sundry battered antiques.
My instinct at the time was that we must find a way of liberating the ship. This matured in 2004 with a proposal called “Behind Closed Doors”, to work with a group of fellow artists to activate those parts of the building that are not accessible to the visiting public.
My first thought was to find a way of projecting the image of the ship out into the adjacent room via a lens fitted into the keyhole. My aim was that the ship could have a fantasy of escaping the confines of the room and maybe also the vitrine.
These drawings were made to explore the idea.
Pencil on paper, 8ft x 5ft