Continuing with The Box Plymouth Figureheads project, we’ve now designed the colour scheme, produced colour palettes and swatches as well as designed the recipes for each of these paints for the whole collection of 14 figureheads. We will be using these on the 5 figureheads that we are conserving as will the conservators working on the remaining figureheads. We created this colour scheme following extended historical research, paint analysis and consulting with David Pulvertaft, an expert in royal naval figureheads.

Interestingly, the figureheads were never intended to be painted when they were first made and were usually white and gold. When they were removed from their vessels at the turn of the century and there was a new appreciation for them as impressive decorative objects, they were then re-painted in colour. In our schemes we are avoiding high gloss, which can often give a fairground quality that many of these figureheads have, and we decided on a colour palette that echoes their history, while making the colours slightly more subtle and muted. With carefully designed aging glazes, all the paints are UV protecting, giving the figureheads both a beautiful re-imagining and longevity. Using gold leaf to highlight the details, the figureheads in their new colourful status will shine as the centrepiece of the entrance to The Box.