“Imprisoned” for 300 years - stone heads find their voice


A new art show looks at the mysterious stone heads – of Neptune and other sea-dwellers – which have been in the University of Greenwich basement for over 300 years.

For the opening night only (Wednesday 17 April) visitors can go on scheduled accompanied tours to view the heads.

Carved by Robert Jones of Stepney in the early 1700s, they were made for the south wall of the Painted Hall. Because the work was completed with brick, which was cheaper than stone, they were abandoned. The heads have been in the basement of Queen Anne Court, the only part of the old royal palace which still exists, ever since.

About the Heads is free and open to all. It takes place at the University of Greenwich Heritage Gallery from Wednesday 17 April (private view) until Friday 24 May.

Gallery curator David Waterworth says: "I first saw the heads in 2006, and the idea of what they might say nagged at me. This exhibition aims to rescue them from obscurity and give the heads a voice. 

"Three artists focus on the history, memory and continuing internment of the heads. Writer Rosie Dastgirhas developed her own version of a chapbook, street literature printed in early modern Europe, in which she imagines the heads talking.

"Painter Camilla Wilson approached her paintings with the view of an 'after image' – what you see when you look away from something.

"Jürgen Mesterhas produced four sculptures that lift the idea of the gargoyle to a contemporary context."

Private View: Wednesday 17th April 6-8. (Includes scheduled guided tours of the heads in the Undercroft)

The gallery is open from Monday to Saturday (10am until 5pm): 10 Stockwell Street, London, SE10 9BD