Isle of Wight Hidden Heroes

Isabella de Fortibus is back home at Carisbrooke Castle Museum after 725 years away.

We're very excited to see that one of our favourite Isle of Wight Hidden Heroes is making a return visit to her former home.

'Lady of the Isle', Isabella de Fortibus, was forced to sell the Isle of Wight on her deathbed in 1293. Until now, the only representation of Isabella at Carisbrooke Castle Museum (where she once lived) were photographs of a stone bust and a re-enactment during the Victorian period.

Click on image to see larger version
Isabella de Fortibus - created by Hannah George

Isabella on tour
However, thanks to Isle of Wight artist, Hannah George, you can now see Isabella at the Museum.

Hannah was commissioned to create a piece of artwork for the major Isle of Wight Hidden Heroes exhibition at Quay Arts earlier this year.

Her response as an artist to Isabella's story was outstanding.

Why is she back at the Castle?
When the Quay Arts exhibition ended in March, Hannah got in touch with the Manager of Carisbrooke Castle Museum (which, by the way, has no connection to English Heritage who own the Castle itself) to see whether they would like to display her Isabella.

Hannah told us,

"It seemed a shame to dismantle Isabella and not give her a second outing."

Not surprisingly, the Castle Museum were delighted to find a home for Isabella. Hannah continued,

"I was really excited to take Isabella back to her home! We chose a spot by a big fireplace and the dark wooden and brick surround really makes the whiteness of her cloak, head and child faces stand out.

"As you enter the room you see her from the back and it's actually quite a ghostly sight now.

"The fragmentary nature of her face, made from scraps of blank white paper was to hint to the fact that we actually know very little about her and must build up a picture of her life and of her qualities as a person from the scraps of information we can find out.

"We must project our own colours onto her through our own particular contemporary eyes."

If you haven't seen Isabella now back in her home at Carisbrooke Castle Museum, do pop along, she looks magnificent. Our thanks to Museum volunteer, Charlotte Reynolds, for use of her photographs.

Click on image to see larger version
Isabella - created by Hannah George

Check back in the future for more details about how Hannah created Isabella.

Images: © Charlotte Reynolds

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