Three works of art stand out from my childhood as every summer, we would be taken to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Two of them: The Blind Girl by Millais and The Last of England by Ford Madox Brown, sparked my imagination and started my passion for Pre-Raphaelite art. I would rush to see the two of them so I could make up new stories for them and this is the reason why children should be in art galleries.
The third piece of art involves this young lady: We have a history. As we would go round the museum, on our way to the T-Rex on the top floor – that’s another story – I would always stop to say hello to this ship’s head. There was no card to say where she had come from or anything to do with her history, but I was fascinated by her: the colour of her dress and the pearls gleaming in the dim light of the museum corridor; her slight smile and elaborate hairstyle was very attractive.
One day, I went back for a nostalgic wander around the galleries and went up to where she lived. She was no longer there – neither was the T-Rex and as he ended up in the skip, I did worry about what could have happened to her and felt sad that I would never see her again.
How wrong I was. Having bought membership to the Tate, I decided to take advantage of the free entry to go and look at their exhibition on British Folk Art; not my cup of tea really., but we all love a bargain. As I perused the exhibit, it led into a room full of Ship’s Heads. The size of some of these took your breath away – incredible pieces of carving. But for me there was only one in the room – my lady! I couldn’t believe that she was there and that she looked so good considering that it was about 35 years since I’d last seen her. Can’t say I was in such good nick! Perhaps the secret is several coats of clear varnish!