I’m delighted to be starting my writer’s residency at Portsmouth Museum. I went to the launch of ‘A Hard Choice’ and was really inspired by both the exhibition itself and the many people who attended. Such a warm, enthusiastic crowd was a testament to how successful curator Rosalinda Hardiman has been over her long career in communicating her passion for collecting.

Often exhibitions are focused around a particular theme or type of object where the curator remains this invisible magician who never reveals the tricks of their trade. It’s rare to get an insight into how an exhibition is put together and to discover the personal and often difficult choices behind the professional exterior. It’s a gift for any writer because there are so many fascinating aspects to this eclectic exhibition that you can’t help but have your imagination ignited. Over the next few months, I will be running workshops in the museum to creatively explore ‘A Hard Choice’ and celebrate the art of collecting. You can find out more information on this blog or email me directly at or Tracy Teasdale, Learning Officer at the Portsmouth Museum

I wrote the following poem after a wonderful conversation at the launch with the artist Garrick Palmer. His painting ‘Three Nuns’ is part of the exhibition and he told me the love story behind it.


Three Nuns, Garrick Palmer 2

A Gift

Three nuns sweeping a love story along.
He gave them as a wedding present
to the woman who married someone else.
They never saw each other again
because she wanted to be remembered,
young, beautiful, the one who got away.

He went to her funeral and her husband
showed him how all these years
his painting had hung in a shrine in their home,
a kind of prayer to a kiss that barely happened.
Yet something of her laughter haunts the white
of their habits, the passion held in memory.

When he went back to the convent
even the stones were exactly how he remembered,
as if his childhood escape from the bombs
were still hanging there, frozen in time,
a whistle collected, a romance preserved in paint,
as if what will survive of us is more than words.