Pullen: Ships of Reality and the Imagination

6 July – 15 December 2012

New exhibition is launched by Business Secretary thanks to the support of a Hertiage Lottery Grant

On Friday 6 July at 3.30pm the Pullen: Ships of Reality and the Imagination Exhibition will be formally opened by Business Secretary and MP for Twickenham the Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP.  The private viewing will also feature the first screening of the newly created film “Life of James Henry Pullen”.

The exhibition is ready to open to the public thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Down’s Syndrome Association was awarded the Your Heritage grant totalling £45,900 towards the 12 month project to deliver a permanent exhibition and programme of associated activities based around the work of James Henry Pullen called “Pullen: Ships of Reality and the Imagination”.

The exhibition is housed in the exhibition space at the Langdon Down Centre in Teddington, in the Langdon Down Museum for Learning Disability.

This exhibition features artefacts made by James Henry Pullen (1835-1916), a resident of the Royal Earlswood Asylum near Redhill who is believed to have had the condition of savant syndrome. Known as the Genius of Earlswood Asylum, Pullen created a series of ships including a model of Brunel’s paddle steamer the SS Great Eastern completed in 1872 and regarded by many as his greatest achievement. Another ship, the Princess Alexandra, is a 40 gun man of war completed in 1862.

Pullen’s life is a significant one in the history of learning disability and this exhibition will allow his story to reach a wider public while putting on permanent display these important historical artefacts.  A series of lectures based around the exhibition is planned, and the DSA is also developing an education programme for local schools, which will teach children about Pullen and learning disabilities.

The exhibition Pullen: Ships of Reality and the Imagination will open to the public on Saturday 7 July at 9.30am.

It will then be open every Monday 2–5pm and Saturday 9:30am–1:30pm.

Carol Boys, Chief Executive of the Down’s Syndrome Association says:

“The DSA delighted that Dr Cable will be able to join us to launch this exciting exhibition highlighting the work of Henry James Pullen in our historic offices. This exhibition is a testament to the achievements that a person with a learning disability can do given the right level of support. We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the funding which has made this exhibition a reality.