Hidden Heroes at Quay Arts

I have been privileged to have been chosen to work on a year-long project called Hidden Heroes, along side colleagues from OnTheWight and Ventnor Exchange. Hidden Heroes is all about getting people on the Isle of Wight excited to visit and regularly use our wonderful local museums and galleries. 

We wanted to inspire the public by finding historic figures from history with a real connection with the Island, such as contributing to the world through their work on the Island, or being inspired by living on the Isle of Wight. We didn’t want to choose ‘heroes’ that only had a tenuous connection, however famous they might be, like only having holidayed here once or twice throughout their life.

We chose heroes that spanned a time period from ancient times to modern day, and they had to be from different disciplines and professions.

The initial heroes chosen were Rev William D Fox (dinosaur fossil hunter), King Awarld (last pagan king of the Isle of Wight), Isabella de Fortibus (last independent lord ‘lady’ of the Isle of Wight), Julia Margaret Cameron (pioneering Victorian photographer), Joe Carstairs (1920s powerboat racer), John Ackroyd (20th century designer and inventor) and Andy Stanford-Clark (Master inventor and computer programmer).

You will currently find even more heroes on the website because Islanders can now submit their own suggestions for historic characters who have a strong connection with the Island. Visit the Hidden Heroes website for more details: https://iwhiddenheroes.org.uk.

The museums, galleries and historic partners we want people to use more are: Carisbrooke Castle Museum, The Classic Boat Museum, The County Record Office, Cowes Maritime Museum, Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Dinosaur Isle, Museum of Island History, Newport Roman Villa and Quay Arts.

As part of the project I had to research the ‘heroes’ and I visited local schools to tell children all about them using the model of a time travel story where we travelled from dinosaur times to modern day. The children came up with so many great ideas and also created artwork and stories. I published them in a Hidden Heroes book and it has been given to local schools, libraries and the partner venues involved in the project.

There is a Hidden Heroes exhibition on at Quay Arts from Saturday 10 February to Saturday 24 March 2018 in The West Gallery along with associated talks, and it is well worth a visit to see the artistic response to the heroes and also some great examples of their work. For example a restoration of John Ackroyd’s first electric production car called the Enfield 8000 - a gorgeous little power blue car that had to be craned into the gallery 

But importantly please visit the above venues because many will be having Hidden Heroes events on and you will be able to see more artefacts and find our more information about the heroes we have chosen.

Philip Bell Author Photo by Chris Cowley

10 March 2018

By Philip Bell in The locals' blogs

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