Queen's House closure

Visitor notice: On Saturday 11 November, the Great Hall, Tulip Stairs and some ground floor rooms will be closed from 2pm. The rest of the House and galleries remain open including the Armada Portrait

Our new Curator of Decorative Arts, Sue Prichard, talks about her role and the exciting Queen's House refurbishment. 

This is my first blog as a member of the Fine Arts team and I’m thrilled to be part of the exciting new developments here at the Queen’s House.  I’ve only been in post for a month but I really hit the ground running on my first day.  I arrived in my smart suit and new ‘school shoes’ and was immediately handed my hard hat and high vis jacket prior to shimmying up the scaffold for my first look at the 17th-century carved beams in the Great Hall. Starting a new job can be daunting to say the least, as you grapple with new systems and processes, as well as trying to find your way around the Museum but that first tingle when you run your hand across an object created 400 years ago, the intimate connection you feel with an artist or artisan of the past beats any feeling of trepidation.  
 
Queen's House refurbishment
 
Back-to-back project, design and interpretation meetings are interspersed with special treats – trips to the conservation studios to catch up with work in progress.  I have a special affinity with the embroidered wool pictures worked by sailors; three will be included in the redisplay which opens in 2016.  I am particularly drawn to ‘HMS Challenger’ 1858, made by Staff-Sergeant David Mead (1850-1941).  
 
A Royal Marine from 1862-1888, David Mead served on ‘Challenger’ between 1866-71. He worked on his embroidery during his retirement, the rhythmic process of stitching acting as a form of mediation, helping him to remember his days as a seafarer and adventurer. His picture was both an aide-memoire but also a memorial, to be handed down to his family.
 
HMS 'Challenger' embroidery by David Joseph Mead
 
In the paintings studio I developed a huge crush on a Tudor dandy Richard Drake (1535-1603), business manager to his more famous cousin Sir Francis. In 1588 he was placed in charge of the Spanish Armada prisoners taken off Plymouth. He has since featured in many 21st century fantasies...
 
Richard Drake by George Gower
 
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