HMS Lance, THE IRON DUKE and the transformers



“Indefatigable”© All rights reserved Charcoal, Conte, Ink, Tissue Paper on card.

I am currently exploring ideas and ways of working for a series of work inspired by WW1naval engagements.

Originally this was to produce a piece of work for an exhibition in Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham, Hampshire, UK.The exhibition was to to be of the FAREHAM ARTS TRAIL which is on from 23.8.14 – 30.8.14.

My work usually starts with a lot of research, followed by lots of quick drawings and then a painting or series of related works. What follows is the saga of the process of my contribution to the art trail.


I made the textured background for the above several months ago – as an example for my EXPERIMENTAL LIFE DRAWING WORKSHOP. It began as an unwanted piece of card that had random pieces of tissue paper and toilet paper stuck to the surface with watered down PVA glue. The accretions were wrinkled at the edges of the rectangle so the middle was less violated. After leaving it to dry for a day, I applied a couple of coats of oil paint primer just to to flatten the surface and seal it.  I made two backgrounds and the above ended up being surplus to requirements as it didn’t get a layer of life drawings added to it (see below). The original idea was to produce a multi-layered LINE drawing over a textured background so that the rough surface would break down the integrity of the line – what transpired was somewhat different – but lucky accidents and a spontaneous approach is what I like – predictability can be boring !



“Indefatigable Transformer 01″© All rights reserved Charcoal, Conte, Ink, Tissue Paper, ipad and Procreate.



“Rose Garden” © All rights reserved Oil Pastel, Charcoal, Inks, tissue paper, gesso and card

This was my first version with an assortment of layers of life drawings. These began with oil pastel and candle wax line drawings but as I like wet and dry media and the random quality of wax resist I also applied coloured ink. In common with many of my experimental pieces I photographed the above and played with it in “Procreate” on my ipad and came up with some lively interpretations or ‘TRANSFORMATIONS”.


“Rusty Rose Garden : Transformer 01”  © All rights reserved

The turquoise layer is the life drawings – not that you would know it !


“Flotsom or Jetsum ?” Oil Pastel on Cartridge 594x841mm © All rights reserved

The above is a pastel study of a rusty piece of metal found on the beach – and this became the middle layer of “Rusty Rose Garden”, the digital piece. The bottom layer was another life study.

Returning to my WW1 series of drawings I haven’t done a battleship for years and have always had a schoolboy affection for the dreadnoughts. The title of the exhibition that I am working on is ‘1914’ so I chose to begin work on HMS Indifategable, followed by the famous IRON DUKE which came into service in 1914 and became Admiral Lord Jellicoe’s flagship.



HMS Iron Duke 1914 (unfinished) Graphite and Conte on cartridge (594x841mm) © There are several alterations that urgently need attention. She is supposed to be as she was in 1914  – but I was using a photo for reference that included the mizzen mast, which didn’t appear until the 1920’s – so that’s going ! The shape of the bow and topsides aren’t yet right and four more side guns need adding plus various portholes etc.

IMG_1790This was the modified drawing of IRON DUKE that was framed up and is now on show in Holy Trinity Church as part of the FAREHAM ARTS TRAIL. © All rights reserved

As with most creative endeavours – a train of thought can come from the most unexpected places. The 5.8.14 marked 100 years since the first shot of WW1 was fired. I was in my bathroom cleaning my teeth when my radio informed me that the “first shot” was fired at sea by HMS Lance, who was part of a large task force that was on patrolling the North Sea. Following a tip off from a fishing boat,who had spotted an unknown ship  “throwing things over the side”  the light cruiser HMS Amphion of the famous Harwich Force and several destroyers went to investigate. They ended up giving chase to a German minelayer, the “Konigin Luise,’ who was laying mines 20 miles north of the “Outer Gabbard”, off the East coast of Britain. The minelayer fled at top speed and proceeded to lay further mines. However, this was short-lived as Lance and Landrail quickly caught her trying to escape to neutral waters of the South East. HMS Lance opened fire and fired the first shot of World War 1, she was then joined by the cruiser HMS Amphion who also began heavy and accurate firing at Konigin Luise who later decided to scuttle the ship, rolling over to port and sinking at 12.22 on 5.8.14.Of the 100 members of the crew the British ships picked up 46 survivors. However, the drama was not over – the British ships continued their patrol and on their return to port they passed through a minefield, that had been laid earlier by the Germans and sadly HMS Amphion struck one of the mines at 6.45 and was so badly damaged that the skipper decided to abandon ship and transfer the crew to the escorting destroyers, whereupon HMS Amphion drifted back into the minefield and hit another mine which sunk her at 7.03 and she became the first official British loss of WW1.

The Konigin Luise was a hastily converted from a ferry to a minelayer and although she was going to get some 88mm guns, she was pressed into service before getting them so when HMS Lance fired her big 4’gun the Germans must have been terrified !  More about HMS Lance and her famous gun later ! The Fareham Art Trail has a lot to answer for and although THE IRON DUKE is the final outcome it is really the start of the project and further investigations. I intend to do a full blown oil painting of HMS LANCE and the German KONIGIN LUISE and possibly another painting of the demise of HMS AMPHION, the first British casualty of WW1.

I will add to this post later as the project develops !




About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator

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