nutcracker sculpture

Nutcracker soldiers in a Christmas Festival

Location: Portsmouth
Client: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

A series of giant nutcracker soldiers have been created to illustrate key moments in the 800-year history of the Royal Navy.

Cracking exhibition

We were commissioned to engage artists to create designs to specific briefs and apply them to 12 blank nutcracker soldier sculptures to be displayed around the dockyard’s visitor attractions. The unique sculptures went on show ready for the venue’s Victorian Festival of Christmas weekend, one of the south of England’s finest Christmas festivals.

Inspiration for the artwork ranged from the centenary year of Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), war heroes, carriers, legendary leaders and tattoos.

The campaign by Portsmouth Historic Dockyard centred around its own version of The Twelve Days of Christmas and as part of the project, the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir recorded a naval version of the classic carol.

John Rawlinson, director of visitor experience at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “The nutcrackers bring the story of the Navy alive in such an imaginative way.

“Each statue has its own unique story about the ordinary and extraordinary people who have been part of the history of the Royal Navy.”

Artist Lois Cordelia designed one of the nutcrackers based on the powder monkeys of the 19th century who were boy seamen employed to ferry gunpowder around the warships.

She said: “On the back is a portrait of one of the powder monkey boys from about 1864 based on one of the very few photos we have of that era to create, I hope, quite an atmospheric, quite haunting and evocative portrait.”