Last month I received an update from Frank Vigon on the appeal to raise funds for the restoration of the grave of the Victorian gay artist Simeon Solomon. I thought I’d share it with you.
It is some time since you heard from me and I am pleased to report that we have made amazing progress.
The original target sum for the project increased as we found out what it would cost to restore the original grave to a suitable condition. This involved restructuring the base area to make it possible to re-erect the original headstone and make the ground surface strong enough to receive the new body stone.
Joss Nankoo, the sculptor, has been very supportive and has tried to keep his fee for the creation of the body stone as reasonable as possible. I'm sure you will be pleased to see his design for the memorial and the progress he has made on the sculpting itself.
Mark Williams, the superintendent of Willesden Jewish Cemetery, has been extremely supportive of the campaign and has already been able to carry out the initial renovation work to make the site ready to receive the body stone.
The final figure that needs to be raised to meet the cost of restoring the grave is £4,100. I am pleased to say that to date, with your help, we have been able to raise $3,500. I still have a number of talks and presentations to make and I am confident that we shall be able to raise the balance needed to fund the project.
lf you have any contacts or friends who would like either to make a contribution to the fund, or would like me to come along to give an illustrated talk on Simeon Solomon (without fee or expenses) please do let me know. I am happy to take every opportunity to raise Simeon Solomon's profile as a major Pre-Raphaelite artist.
The next phase of this process will be to initiate a new fund raising campaign to put together a sum of at least £50,000 to establish a yearly Art PhD research scholarship in the name of Simeon Solomon in perpetuity. This will be done in association with Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn at
in the Art Department . University of York
We are also hoping to establish an annual Simeon Solomon Lecture to be given at the
. University of York
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your help support and advice and hope that you will be able to come along to the unveiling of the stone which will take place at Willesden Jewish Cemetery in July. I will keep you posted about the date nearer the time.
In the meantime please continue to send me ideas for fund raising or contacts and venues for possible talks. We can all be happy that we have been able to be part of a common action to restore Simeon Solomon's reputation as an artist and give him the recognition that was due to him both in restoring his grave and making his work known to an ever increasing audience.
Very best wishes Frank Vigon
You can contact Mr. Vigon and contribute to the appeal by visiting this site.