Back in 1997 I stared at the telly in my far-flung colonial outpost in total disbelief, gawking at the mournful British public in shock, planting a sea of flowers outside Kensington Palace gates and grieving over the death of their sad, lonely (and reputedly crazy) Queen of Hearts. I've been lucky enough to live very close to the Palace since then and have this year managed to worm my way into their volunteer workforce.
One of the advantages of this kind of gig is the free access to the impressive exhibitions, lectures and 'infotainment' these kinds of historical institutions are renowned for. After several months refurbishment, the Palace reopened in a blaze of glory on 29th March and no stone has been left unturned in terms of luxurious thick carpets underfoot, moodily ambient lighting and atmospheric exhibits which totally contemporise the modern 'palace-going experience'.
Artist Julie Verhoeven has created a bespoke wallpaper (below) illustrating the many glamorous guises of the Queen of Hearts in a quirky, watercolour treatment so kitsch it seemed to reference Japanese anime. The Diana 'room' also included an 80s Versace dress the lady herself had worn, its very texture, fabric and dimensions seemingly larger than life when experienced 'in the flesh' after witnessing such a multitude of 2D images over the years courtesy of the world's gutter press.
The liberal use of silhouetting, light projection and individually hand-crafted installations all combined with the classic motifs of Albion history such as seafaring to create a truly magical atmosphere within the palace walls and enable the history of the rooms to come to life. After all...the cat can look at the Queen can't she?