In October 2017, a couple on a day-trip to London were walking up the Mall and happened across the Royal Society of Marine Artists’ Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries. "We were entranced", say the couple. "It was a lovely exhibition; the quality was very high and the subjects delightful." Little did they know that this chance visit would lead to the creation of a stunning marine commission by member artist, Jenny Morgan RSMA, entitled The Great Britain Clipper.
The Clipper Round The World Yacht Race was set up by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who became the first person to solo circumnavigate the world by sea without stopping, between 1968 and 1969. The race itself comprises of eight legs, split into around sixteen individual races, and covering an astounding distance of 40,000 nautical miles, including eight ocean crossings. A fleet of twelve boats compete against each other to endure the elements. Each team sails a 70-foot racing yacht designed by naval architect Tony Castro in 2014.
Shortly after their inspiring visit to the RSMA exhibition, the couple’s son joined the crew aboard one of these twelve yachts, The Great Britain Clipper, to compete in the eleventh edition of the race. Boarding in Cape Town, he first sailed to Perth across the Southern Ocean, then on to Sydney where he took part in the famous Sydney to Hobart race, disembarking at the Whitsunday Islands some three months after he boarded.
Proud of their son, the clients wished in some unique and special way to commemorate his adventure. Remembering that Mall Galleries offers a commissions service, they decided to commission a painting of the yacht on which their son had spent such a thrilling three months. To get the ball rolling, they contacted the gallery's Art Consultant Anna Bromwich, who supplied them with information and artistic options.
"From then onwards it was an easy route", say the couple. "Anna sent us profiles and examples of the work of artists she thought suitable and worked within our budget. Between us, we decided that Jenny Morgan was ideal, and Anna contacted the artist on our behalf. We discussed sizes and content with Jenny, the Clipper Venture Company helped with images, and very quickly the finished picture was delivered, to the delight of all who saw it."
It's no surprise that the clients chose Jenny Morgan to create the piece. She is known for her expertise and commitment to the accurate portrayal of ships, as well as the rendering of ‘the untamed element of the sea and its inspiring changing moods’. These two motifs are married together in The Great Britain Clipper, where we see a true likeness of the racing yacht in action, built for speed and adaptability, and facing the challenges the ocean throws at her. Coincidentally, members of Jenny’s family had participated in a similar ocean race, so she was familiar with the adrenaline of racing through their accounts, which she infused into the work itself through the movement of the crashing waves against the hardy vessel.
The clients presented the painting as a surprise gift to their son in the springtime of 2018. "It was very well received! It's not often that he is lost for words, and the concept proved to be a great success. The picture hangs in a prominent position in his home."
As Sir Knox-Johnston said, "you will never conquer or master the ocean, but you can endure it. Mother Nature is an unforgiving mistress, always with one last trick up her sleeve for you when you least expect it." This quote comes to life in The Great Britain Clipper, which serves as the perfect reminder of a great adventure on the waves.