WRITING ON WATER: Lloyds of London, 2005

In 2005, Lloyd's unveiled a unique exhibition showcasing a range of Lord Nelson artefacts never before seen by the public on the day Nelson set sail for Trafalgar to celebrate the battle's bicentenary at a reception attended by 200 people from the arts and business worlds. Designed by Casson Mann and curated by Artwise it included: a first-hand account of the Battle of Trafalgar recorded in the HMS Euryalus logbook. The Euryalus was next to the main fleet during the battle and those on board were in a unique position to view the full extent of the action; Nelson's favourite breakfast plate and the combined knife and fork he used after he lost his arm; a complete set of Nelson's seven signatures reflecting key stages in his life, most notably when he lost his right arm in July 1797; and a gold dress ring given to Nelson's mistress Emma Hamilton, engraved "Nelson and Bronte to Emma Hamilton 1804".


Lloyd's also commissioned a major, contemporary music and film work in one of the most ambitious collaborations ever undertaken between business and the arts: teaming up with award-winning film director and artist Peter Greenaway, American composer David Lang, and the London Sinfonietta to create a unique performance inspired by the Nelson bicentenary, Lloyd's tradition of innovation and risk taking, and the seaThe piece, called Writing on Water, was premiered at the exhibition's launch reception in the Lloyd's Building and the staging combined film projections on three separate screens showing water images and live calligraphy alongside music performed by the London Sinfonietta. Three singers performed a libretto put together by Peter Greenaway which combines key lines from three major writers on the sea - Shakespeare, Melville, and Coleridge. Peter Greenaway mixed the words and visuals live at the performance.


Lloyd's and Artwise received an investment from Arts & Business New Partners to develop the project. Arts & Business New Partners is funded by Arts Council England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


Participating Artists:    
Peter Greenaway    
David Lang