Hello esteemed reader,
Today I took a trip to Greenwich Maritime Museum to see the ‘Turner at Sea exhibition’.
On the face of things this would seem like a very cultured thing for a 24 year old male living in London to partake in (suits you sir). However you miss read my intentions. I went for one reason and one reason only and that was for a healthy dose of nostalgia. My mission was ingenious in its simplicity, I wished to gaze upon The Fighting Temeraire!
During my childhood in our little terrace house in Bolton there hung a copy of The Fighting Temeraire over our mantelpiece. The copy was painted by my Granddad Michael Hodges, who sadly I never got to meet as he passed away before I was born.
Bear in mind that growing up I saw this painting pretty much everyday until I was about 18 (when I finally flew the coop to go to the terrifying world of university). It is firmly stuck in my brain and whenever I see it I get that lovely warm feeling of nostalgia. I love the sensation when memories come flooding back, some which you thought you had completely forgotten and I’m sure I’m not alone. So imagine how I felt when I saw a massive advert for this exhibition on the underground in London with The Fighting Temiere front and centre in the advert. As Sherlock would say ‘The game was afoot’! I was going to the Greenwich Maritime Museum baby, the mission was formulated!
Once I was inside the exhibition it was clear straight away that it was going to be an amazing experience. The audio guide (which being such a miser I usually never purchase) added to the experience significantly. When I finally came upon The Fighting Temiere I really wanted to know what the curators had to say so I grabbed my audio guide and fumbled at the touch screen (so fancy!). Well the curators claimed one of the main themes of this paintings was nostalgia, the very reason I had come to see it. This painting was trying to get across the message that this was in fact the end of an era, the last surviving boat from the battle of Trafalgar and alas here it is being towed to be broken up and decommissioned. Turner wanted to evoke a sense of yearning for the past, the glory days of the British navy and he really does.
It would be wrong of me if I didn’t mention that as kid growing up I didn’t really read anything into the painting, the fascination lay in the fact that it was a link to my Granddad. I should also mention that my Granddad was an amateur painter and his copy had a few blemishes when compared to the that of the original by Turner. One specific difference that I always fixate on is on the left hand wheel of the steamboat. In my granddads version there are a few white brush strokes there. Well when I was a kid these looked like huge scary teeth, I used to think the steam boat was a monster attacking the golden HMS Temiere! (Sometimes I still do!)
(You can sort of make the teeth out in this grainy snap sent from my dad)
In the pursuit of nostalgia here is a song from my childhood that I used to love (and still do)!