As part of our Ministructures series, artist Lucy Sparrow has made mini versions of London’s favourite landmarks. For each one she sews, we interview a Londoner connected with it. This week, we talk to Milla Nakkeeran, 22, charity science funding assistant.
What’s your connection with this handsome pillar?
‘Nelson is my great, great, great, great, great, great uncle. It’s kind of cool. I forget I’m related to him sometimes so I don’t bring it up much, especially because there are probably loads more of us out there. I studied history at uni so when I’m older I might go into the family genealogy. I want to trace the ones that are descended from Horatio’s brother William, who got his inheritance. They’ll be the rich ones…’
Have you always known you were related to him?
‘My family found out about the link just before my mum was born. Her middle name was about to be Horatio, but luckily for her a family friend died and she was named after her, so now she’s Catherine Ruby instead of Catherine Horatio. She’s so pleased about that.’
Not surprised. Do you feel a sense of pride when you see the Column?
‘When I was little I used to wave when we went past and say “Hello, uncle Nelson!” And I sometimes get messages from friends who’ve passed it, saying “I thought of you today”.’
Cute. Why do you think Nelson’s Column is so famous?
‘When I say I’m related to Nelson a lot of people say, “Who?” Then when I mention the Column they get it. I think more people know him as a monument than as a person. Everyone knows the Column – it stands out right in the middle of this big, open square.’
Where should people go to learn more about the man himself?
‘In the Maritime Museum you can go and see the uniform he died in. I love the museums in London – it’s great that most of them are free.’
What do you think of our little ‘Half Nelson’?
‘It’s incredible. I make things out of felt too. I’ve just got back from a year teaching English in Japan – I joined the school’s sewing club and started making felt Japanese anime characters. Half Nelson is far bigger than anything I’ve made, though. I feel inspired.’
So have any of your great uncle’s traits passed down the family line?
‘My uncle claims to look like Lord Nelson, but I’m not sure he does. I used to be a kayaking instructor in Wimbledon Park and Nelson used to be in the Navy, so maybe I got that from him. I’m not sure I look much like him though. But I guess we both like boats.’ Interview: Flo Wales Bonner
Read more from the Ministructures series.