Home » Art Life

Category Archives: Art Life

Summer Lights in Canary Wharf from M21 June to 21 August 2021

Canary Wharf is famous for its Winter Lights installations which lighten up the dark winter’s night, in contrast the new Summer Lights installations celebrates natural light across the Canary Wharf estate.

The Summer Lights exhibition features eleven new artworks that illustrate the natural light and the power of the sun’s rays.

On a warm sunny day, I wandered around to look at the installations.

Circle of Light Spectrum by toyStudio, Cabot Square

Circle of Light [Spectrum] is an exploration of the hidden nature of the sun in our natural environment. The installation expresses the many colours which make up sunlight and the visual spectrum, mapping them into an arc defined by the position of the sun at sunrise and sunset.

Hymn to the Big Wheel by Liz West, Wren Landing

Hymn to the Big Wheel is an immersive sculptural work exploring the illusion and physicality of colour and natural light in space. Consisting of a multicoloured octagon nestled within a larger octagonal shape, this work encourages the viewer to reposition and align themselves to differing colourways to see a changing scope of colours mixing before their eyes.

Whirl by Helena Doyle X Tom Cherry & Temple, Cubitt Steps

Whirl transforms the wind into a dynamic dance of colour and light. The audience is invited to sit beneath the domed structure, relax and enjoy the mesmerising light show overhead. Whirl aims to showcase the beauty and versatility of wind power and inspire the audience to imagine a future powered by renewable energy.

Out of the Cocoon by Amberlights, Wood Wharf

Out of the Cocoon is a colourful, interactive seating installation that can be admired both from afar and up close. As you walk around the structure see how the colours change before your eyes. The giant butterfly wings symbolise the new life that emerges.

Kilpi by toyStudio, Wood Wharf

Kilpi is the third installation in a series of sculptures by toyStudio inspired by traditional Nordic Sami huts and places of shelter in their most basic form. The installation’s intricate perforations are based on celestial maps and represent the constellations found in the skies above Canary Wharf.

Round and Round by Martin Richman, Jubilee Park

Round and Round brings the Jubilee Park ponds to life, creating a lively space full of reflecting and refracting shapes and colours. As the circles turn in the sun and wind, they create moving shapes illuminating everything around them, casting visually rich patterns of coloured light responding to the weather and the artificial illuminations within its orbit.

Summer Cloud We Dream Of You by Tine Bech Studio, Cabot Square

Summer Cloud invites you to dream and see the world around you. This playful work reflects both visitors and the world around us. The cloud is the perfect metaphor for our age. It’s shape-shifting qualities can inspire hope not only representing the idea of change but symbolising the human ability to dream.

Shine your Colours by Tine Bech Studio, Riverside

Shine your Colours is a multifaceted artwork that allows visitors to see themselves and the world through different colours. The installation consists of 6 transparent coloured glass panels that create a space focusing on wellbeing, where people can meet, relax and reflect.

Ocean Rise by Aphra Shemza, Riverside

Ocean Rise is a mixed reality sculpture that highlights the rise in sea levels due to global warming. Built using sustainable material the shape of the artwork emulates a wave in the ocean and is accompanied by a bespoke soundscape featuring field recordings of waves crashing on the shore created by the sound artist Mowgli, these can be accessed via a QR code.

Hidden Garden by Hugh Turvey, Crossrail Place Roof Garden

Hidden Garden is a scientific representation of flora, using the medium of x-ray imaging to highlight the hidden architectural structures within the subjects. Each image will cover a theme including sustainability, habitat, pollinators and medicinal, each captioned explaining either the science, research or statistics behind the image.

Kaleidoscopic Prisms by Fiona Grady, Jubilee Place, viewed from Jubilee Park

Kaleidoscopic Prisms by Fiona Grady is inspired by the children’s toy, combining a palette of rainbow transparent vinyl triangles that dance across the glass surface of the Jubilee atrium.

After lockdown, many people are enjoying the freedom to roam around and enjoy the fine weather, the installations provide a good reason to wander around Canary Wharf and enjoy the summer sun

Dalston Opens at the Chrom-Art Gallery from the 12th to 20th June 2021

This week, I was delighted to receive news of a new exhibition that offers many different perspectives of London life. Over the years, Isle of Dogs Life has featured many works by Frank Creber and he often works with other artists to provide a visual chronicle of London life.

Frank Creber

Frank’s is best known for his topographical cityscape drawings of East London, he has worked for 35 years at the Bromley-by-Bow Centre, as a Creative Director and Community Artist to develop programmes and activities that integrate art, health, training and the environment.

Rory Brooke

Frank and six other artists present a collective body of work mostly made during lockdown, in a exhibition at CHROM.GALLERY in the centre of Dalston, London.

Ben Kilburn

The work on display includes: Ben Kilburn’s abstract, colourful shapes drawing on the natural and built world; Frank Creber’s mysterious exploration of East London communities; Graham Stone’s evocative drawings of local scenes;

Hedy Parry-Davies

Hedy Parry-Davies’s exploration of beautiful decay of historic architecture; Jane Smith’s tranquil and harmonious city views; Rory Brooke ’s vibrant landscapes with a darker note with Covid and climate change icons; and Steve Edwards’ dramatic but peaceful compositions.

Steve Edwards

The group of artists are linked by a fascination with London and its landscapes and connections with society and contemporary issues, exploring underlying themes and new ways of seeing.

New Artworks in Canary Wharf

After the latest lockdown, I decided to enter the brave new world by taking a walk around Canary Wharf and taking a look of some of their new artworks and to enjoy some spring sunshine.

During the lockdown a series of new works have appeared and other works have been relocated, here is quick tour around some of these pieces.

One of the most noticable new pieces is Gillie & Marc: Tandem Lovers 2020 in Reuters Plaza, ‘Tandem Lovers’ takes you on an adventure with Gillie and Marc’s characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman.

Near the Canary Wharf station is Richard Hudson: Tear which offers a different perspective of the large buildings.

Although Cabot Square is dominated by Henry Moore’s Old Flo, and new piece tucked away is Bob Allen’s: It Takes Two which is a bronze cast of a carving from the fallen bough of an ancient English Yew listed in the Domesday Book.

Jubilee Park is full of new pieces including Helaine Blumenfeld’s Fortuna

For a pychedelic expereience go to Adams Plaza Bridge for Camille Walala’s Captivated By Colour

For something completely different, have a look at Julian Wild: Scribbleform

In the Crossrail Place Roof Garden is Michael Lyons: Shepherd of the Sun and Julian Wild’s Origin (Vertical)

Until the 19th of June, the roof garden is transformed into Crossorelle Roof Garden, a magical installation inspired by the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech.

Created by artists Baker & Borowski, the design is inspired by the history of the West India Docks and the plants that were brought there from faraway lands, such as North Africa.

Although it may be too early to visit museums and art galleries, there is plenty to enjoy artistically wandering around Canary Wharf.

Connected by Light at Canary Wharf from 2 December 2020 to 27 February 2021

© Photograph by Loren Brand

Although the Canary Wharf annual Winter Lights festival has been postponed, the estate has decided to bring some colour and light to the area with Connected by Light which is a specially curated collection of nine light artworks.

© Photograph by Loren Brand

Local photographer Loren Brand on a cold chilly night went to have a look at these new works which aim to bring a sense of calm and reflection in these difficult times as well as a much-needed splash of colour as the winter nights draw in.

© Photograph by Loren Brand

Tetra Park by Mandylights, Westferry Circus
Tetra Park is a geometric artwork that explores colour progressions through a complicated series of linear pathways. The series of stars sometimes appear to work together, while at other times the installation breaks down into seemingly chaotic colour. Their star forms remain true throughout though; shining as bold forms in the night for anyone who follows their path.

The Stories Under Our Feet by Elisa Artesero, Jubilee Park
A poetry trail across Jubilee Park is created by ephemeral shadows of text cast out from underneath the benches. Each cluster of benches form micro poems of a larger poem across the site. These dream-like poems encourage moments of contemplation, connection, and wonder.

Newfoundland Reflections by Hawthorn, viewing point at Mackenzie Walk
Newfoundland is a new Canary Wharf icon and a striking addition to the skyline. This stunning building will soon open its doors to its first residents but before then, we have transformed it into a beaming spectacle of light. Watch the colourful patterns evolve and glow in the waters below.

© Photograph by Loren Brand

Colour Cubed by Mandylights, Wren Landing
Colour Cubed is a simple exploration of the beauty that comes from a single light source. While we are constantly surrounded by vibrant displays of constant technology, the artwork uses a single traditional lamp along with long-used coloured glass techniques to cast a display of coloured light just as brilliant, dominant and inspiring as any other artwork or object in our lives.

Office Party by Parker Heyl, 20 Water Street

2020 has been defined by quarantine and social distancing, with many Londoners now working from home. “Office Party” comes from the playful idea that our work spaces may come to life in our absence. The blinds’ unexpected movement in an office after the workers have left, creates a moment of magic. 

Curious Fluorious by Baker & Borowski, Crossrail Place Roof Garden
Artists Baker & Borowski are turning Lewis Carroll’s much-loved Alice in Wonderland into a magical fluoro installation for the modern day – Curious Fluorious. The installation features giant sculptural pieces that transform the space with a luminous glow, creating selfie moments aplenty, as we head on a magical journey through Crossrail Place Roof Gardens.

© Photograph by Loren Brand

Murmuration by Squidsoup, Montgomery Square
Several hundred networked orbs, each containing lights and speakers, visualise a swarm of networked data moving through real space. Welcome to Murmuration, a piece originally inspired by the flight patterns of flocks of starlings, here transformed into digital form, but navigating and negotiating its way around the physical location of Canary Wharf’s Montgomery Square. Originally commissioned by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ.

Ghost Trees by Tom Wilkinson, Middle Dock
Ghost Trees is a site-specific artwork that draws attention to an extraordinary prehistorical event. When the East India docks were constructed in 1790 evidence was found of the remains of a great subterranean forest in a state of preservation the trees were not scattered or dispersed but lay in regular order.These rings of light represent these hidden trees, glowing from under the dock’s surface.

© Photograph by Loren Brand

Neon Tree by Hawthorn, Canada Square Park

The artworks will be on display from Wednesday 2 December until 27 February to ensure visitors can take their time to enjoy them. Some installations can be viewed at any time of day, but others will only come to life after dark so, we advise you visit after dusk. All installations will be switched off at 10pm daily.

If you would like to see more of Loren’s work, go to her website here  and Instagram account here

Support for The Space on the Isle of Dogs

The Isle of Dogs has never been a place that is considered a centre of the Arts or Culture. However since 1996, The Space at the bottom of the Island has provided inclusive and ambitious theatre in a converted church.

The Space was opened by Robert Richardson and the St Paul’s Arts Trust, a group of local residents and quickly became known for staging exciting, unique productions. The also run workshops, courses and artist development opportunities. Space Productions has produced over 30 plays and received 6 Off-West End award nominations. Last year, they broke their box office records, hosting 9,407 audience members across 244 performances.

During lockdown, the Space run a Locked Down, Looking Up online programme which supported their practitioners, participants and audiences. Over the course of 16 weeks, they produced and staged 10 play readings, 30 theatre workshops, 16 theatre club sessions and 2.0 Fest, a special festival of 8 duologues 3 of which have won OnComm awards.

Like many other theatres, due to the pandemic they face a very uncertain future and have launched a crowdfunding promotion to raise funds. The theatre has had to deal with decreased income from traditional ticket sales, venue hires and rent from their cafe/bar. As a result, the Space now faces risks that could result in permanent closure.

The Space is due to celebrate 25 years as a theatre in September 2021 and any donations will provide a lifeline till performances get back to reasonable levels.

If you would like to donate follow this link

 

Brightening up the High Street – Aberfeldy Street in Poplar

Photograph by Laureen Katiyo

Over the last few weeks, the nice weather has enabled people to come out of their homes and enjoy being outdoors. Long time regular contributor, Laureen Katiyo made her way into Poplar and came across a fun and innovative way of brightening up the ‘high street’.

Photograph by Laureen Katiyo

The programme called Start Here has provided a visual transformation of Aberfeldy street in Poplar. Building frontages have been painted in a patchwork of colours and decorated in patterns inspired by fabrics donated by members of the largely Bangladeshi community in a nod to the Kantha tradition of recycling old textiles to make something new. The intention is to bring colour and artwork onto Aberfeldy Street, highlight the high street and celebrate the cultural identity of local people.

Photograph by Laureen Katiyo

As part of the programme, Aberfeldy Street gives businesses or individuals the opportunity to start and trial their ideas on the high street. The aim is to develop an active high street that provides opportunities for local people whilst serving the local community.

Photograph by Laureen Katiyo

One community initiative is ‘The People Speak’, which a project that encourages people to speak to each other. The formats look familiar at first: a chat show , a game show or even a soccer kick-about, but once people are involved, there’s no limit to where they can take each other. No instruction manual is required, and they like to have as much fun and get just as involved as everyone else.” They are hosting another socially-distanced roundtable community discussion on the street next Thursday (27 August) evening from 7:30pm – 9pm, which is open to everyone.

Photograph by Laureen Katiyo

Laureen also visited The Tommy Flowers micropub named after Tommy Flowers who not only played a major part in codebreaking but also developed what many consider to be one of the first electronic computers.

Tommy Flowers was born in Abbott Road, Poplar where he developed his interest in engineering. In 1941 Tommy was asked to work at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing on a project to decode German messages. However it was in 1943 when Turing introduced Tommy to Max Newman that work began on the project that would make their name.

Photograph by Laureen Katiyo

It is easy to become downhearted with the present crisis but it is not all doom and gloom, many organisations and individuals are looking for new and innovative ways to create a pleasant community environment and offer opportunities for people to develop their community and business ideas.

Many thanks to Laureen Katiyo for the photographs.

Book Review: Love on the Isle of Dogs by Jude Cowan Montague

Recently I was contacted by writer, illustrator and broadcaster Jude Cowan Montague who has just published her latest book entitled Love on the Isle of Dogs.

The book is a graphic memoir of her early life against the background of a changing Isle of Dogs in the 1990s. Jude Cowan Montague lived on the Isle of Dogs with her husband in the early 1990s, it was a whirlwind romance and a very difficult time for her as she became quickly pregnant and her husband’s mental health began speedily to degenerate. The stress increased and the knock on effect for both after the separation dominated their lives for years to come.

What is unusual about the book is that the story is first told visually using drawings and then by using text.

Jude’s drawings illustrate how the Island provided the background for her life and romance. In the beginning, the drawings have a children’s picture book quality but gradually they become darker and more menacing.

Jude’s husband was one of the participants in a self-build scheme on Westferry Road and their house was close to Mudchute Farm, which became for Jude, a welcome escape from the pressures of modern living.

The text part of the book is more about how Jude tried to make sense of her life as it enfolded from working at an Arts Centre and moving forward to marriage and motherhood. It is an honest portrayal, full of unrealistic dreams, denial, love, concern, anger, fear and loss.

The book is very much a modern love story about romance, marriage and having a child. However, not every story has an happy ending and a series of incidents turns the relationship into a nightmare. The Isle of Dogs like any place is not just a location but a home to thousands of people. Those people all have a story to tell but not everyone can tell that story in such a graphic or creative way like Jude. It is her talent that she can see her own story in a wider perspective and understands that sometimes the environment reflects the personal. The confusion and changing times of early 1990s Docklands reflected the strangeness of a relationship that moved quickly from light to darkness.

These are lessons, all of us have had to deal with in recent times, when the familiar has become strange and unsettling. We can take some solace from Jude’s end of the book which reflects her hope and determination to create better times in the future.

You can order or buy a copy of the book here

Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I Exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich


Last week I took the short ride over to Greenwich to come face to face with the three surviving versions of the famous Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I which are on public display together in a free exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich. The exhibition, entitled Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I, is the first time the paintings have been displayed together in their 430-year history.

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, circa 1588 © National Maritime Museum, London

The Armada Portraits  are considered one of the most iconic images in British history and commemorates the most famous conflict in Elizabeth’s reign when the Spanish Armada failed in their attempt to invade England in 1588. Royal Museums Greenwich showcases its own version of the Armada Portrait alongside the two other surviving versions, from the collections of Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery.

The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. From the Woburn Abbey Collection

For all the fame of the Armada Portraits, very little is known about them, they were believed to have been painted shortly after the Armada, in 1588. The origins of the paintings and artists are shrouded in mystery with some experts suggesting that three different artists or studios could be responsible for the three principal Armada Portraits working from a single template.

Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown English artist, circa 1588 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Queen’s House is a wonderful setting for the exhibition which presents an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to explore closely the  three iconic depictions of Elizabeth I. In all three versions, the Queen is shown in a rich gold-embroidered and jewelled dress with seascapes showing different episodes of the Spanish Armada story.

The Queen’s House is part of Royal Museums Greenwich. It is 17th century Palladian villa, designed by Inigo Jones, which is situated on the site of the original Greenwich Palace complex, which was a major political centre of the Tudor dynasty and the birthplace of Elizabeth I herself.

So in many respects, Greenwich with its Tudor and Maritime history is the ideal place to full understand how the paintings relate to an important part of British history, England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada was considered one of the greatest military victories in English history and Elizabeth was celebrated in portraits, pageants, and the literature of the day.  Evidence of the  Elizabethan era has largely disappeared from Greenwich, these portraits are a reminder that for hundreds of years that this part of London was the centre of British power and prestige.

Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I is open from 13 February – 31 August 2020 at the Queen’s House in Greenwich alongside the Woburn Treasures exhibition that runs from 13 February to 17 January 2021, both are free to visit.

Winter Lights Festival 2020 at Canary Wharf from 16 to 25th January 2020

If you are suffering January blues, it might worth making your way to Canary Wharf for their Winter Lights Festival. The festival returns for a sixth year bringing together some of the most imaginative light artists to create spectacular artworks, installations and experiences.

Some old favourites return and each year the festival seems to get bigger and better. The festival is great for all the family with plenty to entertain the children.

This year there are over 25 spectacular installations, there are pieces which can be admired from afar as well as those which will allow people to get up close and interact with them.

1: Mi-E Dor De Tine by Daisler Association, Middle Dock
This romantic message declares “I miss you”. Whilst there is no perfect translation, this is the closest adaptation for this Romanian saying. It refers to a deeper meaning about longing or missing someone.

Romania

2: Bit.fall by Julius Popp, Chancellor Passage
An ever-changing cascade of words created by thousands of falling illuminated water droplets. The words are derived from a number of live news sources including The Times, The Guardian and the BBC News.

Germany

3: The Clew by OTTOTTO, Cubitt Steps
Made from 100 circles of red light, The Clew is a beautiful structure created around the Cubitt Steps Bridge.

Portugal

4: Liquid Sound by Entertainment Effects, Cabot Square
Once again, the much-loved fountain in Cabot Square has a makeover for Winter Lights with a display of music and light.

UK

5: Absorbed by Light by Gali May Lucas, Cabot Square
Take a seat in between the three figures of Absorbed by Light, designed by the British Gali May Lucas and executed by Berlin-based sculptor Karoline Hinz.
Experience how it feels to be next to the characters on the bench.

UK

6: Sky on Earth by UAII Studio, Columbus Courtyard
This atmospheric UK premiere is inspired by the experience of a night flight over storm clouds. Columbus Courtyard will be transformed into an electrifying life sized cloud made of foam.

Czech Republic

7: Time & Tide by Paul & Pute, Columbus Courtyard
Time & Tide, with its hourglass design and colours inspired by nature, reminds us of the urgency of halting the plastic pollution of our oceans.

UK / Thailand

8: Shish-ka-buoy by Angus Muir Design, Westferry Circus
This fun installation is equally interesting by day as it is under the cover of darkness; during daylight hours, the large cluster landlocked six metre tall buoys absorb the light and give off a magical glow.
By night, thousands of LEDs inside create a whirl of colours and spherical gradients in this installation made from fully recyclable polyethylene marine buoys.

New Zealand

9: Lactolight by Lactolight, Westferry Circus
7,344 recycled plastic milk bottles become individual pixels in a giant low-res video screen. Programmed light depicting colours and patterns combined with a custom built soundscape gives you an overall sensory experience.

UK

10: Stratum by Studio Chevalvert, Westferry Circus
Stratum is an interactive installation made up of 92 illuminated metal totems. Visitors are invited to move their hand over the sensor to trigger movement in the artwork.

France

11: Mountain of Light by Angus Muir Design, Wren Landing
Mountain of Light is a monolithic installation, towering to a height of four meters and brought to life by a dramatic repertoire of lighting effects that begin with subtle changes in shade and culminate in an intense mash up of colours.

New Zealand

12: Ditto by Ithaca Studio, Wren Landing
A column of light repeating infinitely above and below the audience. Enter the space and experience light and sound swirling around overhead and underfoot trailing into infinity and creating beautiful reflections and colours in both daytime and evening.

UK

13: Luma Paint Light Graffiti by Lichtfaktor and Bomber Graffiti, Crossrail Place Roof Garden
Create your own unique light painting!
In 2008 Lichtfaktor developed the first real time Light Painting Software. It works on any object, from cars to buildings, transforming almost any object into a living paint canvas so you can create stunning paintings in just a few seconds.

Germany

14: Aquatics by Philipp Artus, Crossrail Place, Level -1, Quayside
Animated water creatures swim and dive around each other in this mesmerizing and delightful interactive light installation.

Germany

15: Desire by UxU Studio, Crossrail Place, Level -1, Quayside
Desire is a playful, sensual design that at first glance looks like giant, red lips. From the side, the image of the lips disappears, and you see a heartbeat instead – a heart beating faster with strong desires.

Taiwan

16: Constellations by Studio Joanie Lemercier, North Dock, viewing point at Crossrail Place, Level -1 Quayside
Making its London debut, Joanie Lemercier’s Constellations takes us on a trip through space with visuals projected onto a giant water screen with an electronic soundscapes by producer Paul Jebanasam.

France / Belgium

17: Seed of Life by Amberlights, Canada Place, Level -1, outside Waitrose
Enter the Seed of Life and discover a metallic rainbow spectrum of colours created by reflections and refractions from the natural elements of the daylight.

UK

18: Lightbench by LBO Lichtbank, Canada Square Park
A firm Canary Wharf favourite, our ten stunning light benches, form part of the permanent art collection.
Germany

19: Neon Tree by Hawthorn, Canada Square Park
Neon flex will transform a tree into a striking sculpture in the heart of Canada Square Park. This colourful display will shine subtly by day and dazzle by night.

UK

20: The Bra Tree, Canada Square Park
Drawing inspiration from a tradition on the American ski slopes of throwing your bra onto a tree, Canary Wharf will host their own special illuminated version.

21: Affinity by Amigo & Amigo and S1T2, Montgomery Square
Affinity is an immersive, interactive light sculpture inspired by the dazzling complexity and connectivity of the human brain.

Australia

22: Pools of Light, Jubilee Park
The ponds at Jubilee Park are getting a makeover for Winter Lights. See them transformed by thousands of colourful illumined orbs, weaving a stunning stream of light and sound through the park.

23: Squiggle by Angus Muir Design, Jubilee Park
Squiggle is a winding mass of 450 metres of digital neon tubing twisting and turning to fill Jubilee Park. This unique sensory journey is created by the artist’s innovative manipulation of space and sense.

New Zealand

24: 16 bits by Parker Heyl, Jubilee Place
Parker Heyl has a mechanical engineering and robotics background and is interested in kinetic sculpture for live performance.

The installation was developed as part of the Analog Future project at the Interactive Architecture Lab at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
USA
http://www.parkerheyl.com

25: Chromatic Play by Tine Bech Studio, Jubilee Park
These fun, illuminated sculptures invite you to interact with them. Each glowing creature has alien-like antennae fitted with interactive sensors, so when a visitor is in close proximity their presence is detected and the colours begin to change.

Denmark

26: SASHA Trees by ADAM DecoLight, Ten Bank Street Park
Ten Bank Street becomes a magical winterscape as this new park is illuminated with glowing fir trees. The striking neon colours of the trees create a fantastic contrast with the surrounding buildings.

Estonia

The Festival takes place from Tuesday 16 – Saturday 25 January 2019 between 4-10pm throughout Canary Wharf, the festival is free to attend.

Click here to download a map to help guide you round the festival

Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I at the Queen’s House in Greenwich from 13 February 2020 until 31 August 2020

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, circa 1588 © National Maritime Museum, London

Something to look forward to in the new year is the Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich (13 February 2020 until 31 August 2020). The exhibition presents the three surviving versions of the iconic Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I and it will be the first time the paintings have been displayed together in their 430-year history.

Considered, one of the most iconic images in British history, the Armada Portrait commemorates the most famous conflict in Elizabeth’s reign, the Spanish Armada’s failed attempt to invade England in 1588. Royal Museums Greenwich will showcase its own version of the Armada Portrait alongside the two other surviving versions, from the collections of Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery.

The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.  From the Woburn Abbey Collection

Athough the artists of the paintings is unknown it is believed that three versions of the Armada Portrait were painted shortly after the event, circa 1588. The three portraits united at the Queen’s House are the only contemporary versions in existence and the only three featuring seascapes that depict episodes from the Spanish Armada in the background.

The portraits will be displayed in the Queen’s House, the 17th century house, designed by Inigo Jones which is part of the original Greenwich Palace complex, which was a centre for the Tudor dynasty and the birthplace of Elizabeth I.

Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown English artist, circa 1588 © National Portrait Gallery, London

In all three versions of the iconic portrait, the dominating figure of the Queen in a rich gold-embroidered and jewelled dress, behind her are two seascapes, depicting different episodes in the Spanish Armada. The portraits were used to present a public image of Elizabeth I, presenting her as a powerful, authoritative and majestic figure.

The exhibition will be a rare opportunity to see iconic portraits of Elizabeth I in a location that will be forever be associated with the Tudor world.

Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I will be open from 13 February – 31 August 2020 at the Queen’s House in Greenwich and is free to visit.