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.


2 thoughts on “AN EASY LAUNCH

  1. Lovely poem. Can you pls tell me the date of this painting – my guess would be that it is one of his earliest works, possibly around 1960? – one can already see what will become his major preoccupation – the landscape. Where his later works show the English landscape through a screen, here the view is seen around the nuns.


    • Delighted you like the poem. Here’s the info about the painting that was included in the exhibition (you were right, it is an early work) –
      Three Nuns, 1955
      Garrick Palmer
      Oil paint

      Palmer was educated at St John’s College in Southsea then trained at Portsmouth College of Art and at the Royal Academy Schools. This painting was made when he was a student and he gave it to a female friend of his. It remained in her collection until after her death when it was given to us. We only state the names of donors if they or their family wish it. Sometimes items are given in memory of people and we are happy to acknowledge this. I was delighted we acquired this painting. Although we already had some works by Palmer, we did not have any of his early work and none that feature such a quirky subject painted with considerable humour.

      Liked by 1 person

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