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Richard III funeral: how a DMU graduate's artwork will make history

Millions of people around the world are due to watch the reinterment of Richard III today – and a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate has played a very special role in the occasion.

Design Crafts 2011 graduate Perin Towlson designed and created the ceramic pots into which soil samples from the places he was born lived and died have been placed. The soils will be laid around his coffin by the Archbishop of Canterbury during today’s ceremony.

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Perin worked closely with cabinet-maker Michael Ibsen, a descendant from Richard III’s older sister, on the project. Mr Ibsen designed a casket made of yew for the porcelain pots to sit inside.

She said: “It’s amazing. I normally work from my kitchen to go from me sitting at my kitchen table to Leicester Cathedral, in one of the biggest event in the world at the moment – I can’t believe it.”


Her porcelain pots fit snugly into the casket. “We were working to millimetre measurements so it was a great moment when they fitted!,” said Perin. “It’s just such a great project to be working on. To be able to have played a role in this truly historic occasion is just a dream come true.”

She was given the commission through her membership of Creative Leicestershire, an arts organisation supporting artisan makers in the county.

She was sworn to secrecy about the project and could not tell her closest friends about her involvement with Richard III’s reinterment.

The soils are collected from Fotheringhay Castle, where Richard III was born, Middleham in Yorkshire, where he met his future wife Anne and the site of the Battle of Bosworth where he died in battle.

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Perin (centre) with cabinet designer Paul Mckenzie (left) and creator Michael Ibsen.

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Perin added: “I was at Fenn Lane as the soil from the Battle of Bosworth site was presented on Sunday. It was a wonderful service, the crowd was really sympathetic to the whole project. I think it will be a great thing for Leicestershire.”

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Volunteers from DMU will also be helping florist Rosemary Hughes with the displays at the cathedral.

Rosemary said: “All the flowers that have been donated have been gathered up and arranged and will be put back into the cathedral for tomorrow’s service. There’ll also be a sea of lilies and large displays with primroses and woodland flowers  and lots of foliage – the kind that would have been used in Richard’s time.”

Posted on Thursday 26th March 2015

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