VIDEO: Re-creating the Armada tapestries

Hayley O'Keeffe visits Wrest Park with photographer June Essex and videographer Natalee Hazelwood

A series of historic Spanish Armada tapestries have been re-created as 12ft high paintings at Wrest Park near Silsoe – and will soon be moving on to a new home in The House of Lords.

The two-year project to create a version of the original tapestries, which were destroyed by fire in 1834, is due to be completed by artist Anthony Oakshett in June.

On Wednesday members of the House of Lords attended Wrest Park to view the work in progress.

And Mr Oakshett is working hard to fulfil the fast-approaching deadline set by the government even though he can only use sketches that have survived of the ten original tapestries.

He said: "It's going fairly smoothly and as the deadline approaches we have had to be quite methodical about what we try to complete first. The elaborate border has been the focus of our recent work.

"It contains lots of portraits, gold lettering and grotesques. It is painted directly onto the gold frame."

Mr Oakshett is working with a team of artists, including Colin Sailes and Ruijun Hu who he described as "excellent artists in their own right."

He said: "I interviewed the artists for the team about two years ago.

"They had to have the right skills for the project and be able to work well in a team."

But it is the sheer scale of the project that excites Mr Oakshett.

He said: "My great interests are portraiture, lettering and 19th century techniques and this project encompasses all of those.

"It is nice to have a challenge and good to have something to get my teeth into."