It was a ‘stream of consciousness moment’; one of those that acts like a time machine. The flash of memories cut right back to my childhood – seven or eight years old. It included the sight and texture of the old bricks of our primary school playground, the beginnings of art at school, and learning about that most romantic of things – ships, or, to be precise, that arcane institution: the Royal Navy, and its beginnings.
All this was prompted by the cardboard drawing of an Elizabethan ship… We needed a core image for the Jewel in the Claw workshop, something that would sit as a centrepiece on the threefold panel at the back of the room, the place of the mystical East.
I don’t often build ships – not even models, though my childhood bedroom ceiling had a wonderful assortment of Airfix and Frog model planes hanging from pieces of nylon fishing line so that they were arranged in a global dogfight that spanned space and time. Ships were slow and cumbersome… But then I met Elizabeth, the Tudor Queen, and saw them from within her eyes, and another world opened.
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