Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Last week I took a trip Down South for my cousin's (superb) wedding, but I made the executive decision to extend my stay beyond the Surrey wedding festivities and visit my dad in Kent. We spent a cheeky Monday in Greenwich for some father-daughter bonding time. The Cutty Sark was a draw for both of us; I love a bit of maritime history (&, obviously, a good bit of conservation), and dad will gladly get his teeth into any kind of history, maritime or otherwise.

So off we went.

The pieces of steel painted white are original materials from the ship. They've cleverly differentiated so that all visitors can understand a) the amount of structural work that has been put into place to keep her "afloat", & b) the level of decay before conservation. Take a look to the left hand side there, that's an awfully big chunk of steel missing.

Well this picture obviously had to happen.

Honestly, the work at Cutty Sark is remarkable. Dad & I wandered around the ship for a good two hours. The conservation and interpretation work has really brought the ship to life, and in my opinion, done an amazing job at enhancing the heritage significance of the ship and its story. I was a particular fan of the way that the ship has been lifted 3 metres from the base of the dry dock, giving visitors the opportunity to walk directly beneath the hull. It's a fantastic way to comprehend the gigantic and impressive nature of the vessel.

Another of my favourite aspects was the fact that the glass casing around the outside of the ship/exhibit was built to represent the water level, were Cutty Sark at sea. That's the kind of attention to detail that really floats my boat. Cough.

As dad & I took a stroll, I noticed that there were two domes poking above the skyline. Naturally, I went to investigate. The Greenwich Royal Naval College Painted Hall was absolutely overwhelming, and packed with paragone. (This term, meaning painting in sculpture/sculpture in painting, failed me; whilst trying to remember it, I discovered an online essay on the topic written by one of my ex-lecturers. Dr Fabio Barry was one of my favourite teachers, and it was his module that began my love affair with domes. You can read the article here).

The staff in the painted hall were extraordinarily helpful. They are currently undergoing conservation works on the paintings & tried their best to answer my questions about caring for the dome.

The Greenwich Royal Naval College Chapel reflected the painted hall on the exterior, but the interior was an entirely different story. Another feat of triumphant decadence, texture, colour and pattern.

So, a trip to see Cutty Sark resulted in some surprising discoveries. Just goes to show that you can never tell what kind of architectural gems are just around the corner.

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