The Royal Museums Greenwich ‘Battle of Solebay’ tapestry is now finally back in the Queen’s House where Willem Van de Velde the elder and his son designed this very set of tapestries more than 350 years ago for Charles II.
After a long weekend finishing off the lining of the tapestry we waved it off in a truck early on Monday morning and followed on to Greenwich for installation the same day. The final stages over the last month have seen a gargantuan effort to complete and line this vast tapestry.
Using two scaffold towers we gradually unrolled the tapestry from a vertical roller set on a wheeled dolly and track positioned inside the two scaffold towers. We unrolled as we gradually affixed it to the waiting Velcro batten suspended on brackets just below the gorgeously ornate ceiling.
It was so exciting and really emotional to see the tapestry revealed hanging for the first time after almost 18 months of being rolled up for conservation. This was our first (very public) chance to check the success or otherwise of many many hours of work.
We couldn’t be prouder of the brilliant work our tapestry team have achieved together – led by Hazel Arnott they have seamlessly managed to pull this tapestry sharply back into focus with their beautiful stitching and sympathetic appreciation of both the artist’s and the weaver’s original intent. We haven’t totted up the final conservation hours total yet but we are well over the 3500 mark so far and Hazel has worked out we used more than seven miles of thread in the process!
The exhibition opening on 2nd March looks amazing; visitors get an intimate close up experience of the tapestry – as well as the space to step back and appreciate it’s amazing design and perspective. Watch a short film of our installation process below …