The National Maritime Museum has recently opened a brand new photographic exhibition displaying some of the work of Alan Villiers, but it was while I was researching the 33 images used for the Villiers exhibition, I realised how little I know about the man. In order to gain some understanding of Villiers' experiences at sea as a sailor and photographer, I realised that a large amount of reading was required. Therefore, after reading five books on tall ships written by him, and the excellent biography by Kate Lance, I began to appreciate his love of the sea and the ships.
The photographic collection is very large, numbering some 25,000 negatives and transparencies. The part of the collection that focuses on his tall ship sailing provides a visual record of the people he met and worked with. It also records the ships and their architectural beauty, and the fickle environment he had to cope with when photographing the voyages.
N61451.jpgUnder sail in heavy weather on the 'Parma'
Above all, his photographic record allows us to remember and appreciate the work of the tall ships plying their trade without the glamour of the clippers. It is interesting to note that this is very much a subject of current interest, with the Tall Ships racing, and training ships that continue to offer this experience to all ages and backgrounds.
I hope that you enjoy the exhibition which runs until 6 April.