Originally almost the same size (304 x 426 cm) as Rembrandt’s painting of the same name before being cut to manageable size by the artist, The Night Watch was the centrepiece of the Mental Handicap Project in 1976 and was unveiled by Plymouth’s Lord Mayor, Arthur Floyd. Concealed behind a vast curtain at one end of the warehouse studio Jacob’s Ladder, this deliberately invoked the great unveiling scene in Alexander Korda’s 1936 film Rembrandt, which had first inspired Lenkiewicz to become a painter when he saw it on television as a boy.
As in Rembrandt’s painting, Lenkiewicz is depicting those who ‘look after’ and are ‘responsible for’ the vulnerable in our society. Sitters for the painting were drawn from the social services and other care organisations concerned with people with learning difficulties.
Left to right: Dr Hans de Rijke; Superintendant Physiotherapist at the Trengweath Spastic Centre, Viv Sloaman; Ron Moore, headmaster at Mill Ford School; Dr David Owen, MP for Devonport and Minister for Health; Bernard Ashley, director of a skills training centre, ‘Cockney Jim’, a vagrant; Ken Young, Director of Social Services for West Devon.