Of all the contemporary artists whose work is found in the Masterworks’ collection, probably one of the most interesting is Malcolm Morley.  

He was born in London’s run down East End where the blitz of WWII was the most devastating. Morley’s home was one that took a hit and his family lost everything. Growing up poor, petty thievery was a way of life for Morley, and he was finally incarcerated. It was in prison he learned to paint and read extensively.

He first visited Bermuda in 1977 and painted a number of watercolours. Coincidentally, his oil painting Monarch of Bermuda was done in 1968 is considered to be the first example photo-realism. In 1984, he won the first Turner Prize, the coveted prize from the Tate named after JMW Turner, Britain’s greatest artist.

In 2000,when he was revisiting some of his Bermuda work, Morley was inspired to create Crusade (pictured).  

There is much allegory in the piece as it was painted the year he became an American citizen, thus, using a galleon as a metaphor for transporting him to the US, he also incorporates the banners of the various London Guilds which funded the exploration of the new world. Visible too, is both England’s Cross of St George’s and his Serengeti Plane which was lost in the bombing of London some 60 years earlier.

Tom Butterfield is founder and director Masterworks Museum