The Londoness


Born in Paris.

Made in London.

Teller of London Tales.

Art Review: Echoes Across the Century

The Guildhall Art Gallery has been on my cultural radar for a long time. After all, it’s home to some very impressive pre-Raphaelite paintings, and its belly houses the remains of a Roman amphitheatre no less, discovered in 1988 when the gallery was carrying out renovation works. But my reason for heading over to the Guildhall Art Gallery this week was to see an extraordinary exhibition, Echoes across the Century,  an immersive journey through the human stories of World War I.

Endless Love

The exhibition was the brainchild of artist Jane Churchill whose relationship to World War I is extremely personal and which she makes the central subject of the show. Churchill’s great great-uncle, Second Lieutenant William Goss Hicks, lost his life on the Western Front on 3rd July 1917. He left his fiancée, Jesse Ellman, behind in Kent, and the exhibition is an artistic shrine to their short love story and to those lost in the war.

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

Star-crossed lovers William Goss Hicks and Jesse Ellman

Churchill’s background includes theatre set design and creation, installations and exhibitions. Together with students of all ages from 14 London schools, she created over 600 objects for the exhibition, the result of which is an immersive journey recounting the stories of love, loss and survival.

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

Eighteen children between the ages of four and six were killed in Poplar during a bombing raid in 1917. Students of similar age from Clara Grant school created this memorial, a symbol of peace, growth and hope.

Echoes across the Century  is essential viewing. It’s heart wrenching, moving, powerful and beautiful, made even more poignant as Churchill designed it with the artistic contribution of so many children. As you wander from room to room, the boundaries between the real and the imaginary quickly become blurred, creating an experience which won’t leave a dry eye in the house.

Exhibition Highlights

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

LEFT and CENTRE: ‘Jessie Ellman’s Collection of Tears, 1917.’ The Victorians collected mourning tears in tiny bottles sealed with wax. The period of mourning was over once the tears had evaporated. Jessie Ellman created this piece in 1917 after Hicks’ death. RIGHT: ‘Repatriation’ by Jessie Ellman. The small bottles contain sand from the cemetery in Barlin where Hicks was buried.

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

A project started by the Mulberry School for Girls and the Pattenmakers’ Company, this piece highlights the story of the army boot.

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

Games were essential morale boosters in the trenches. Here, the cards are used as a war metaphor: the establishment was shuffled, families scattered, and everyone had to play the hand they were dealt.

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

An original World War I saddle from the Battle of the Somme.

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

One of several ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ made by the students.

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

Churchill and the exhibition contributors created these moths (no two are identical). Symbol of the soul, these are a moving commemoration of those who lost their lives.

 

Exhibition Details

Echoes across the Century  is on at the Guildhall Art Gallery to 16 July. Entrance is free.

Lunchtime talk on Friday 7 July from 1-2pm.

About the Guildhall Art Gallery

Guildhall Art Gallery, Echoes Across the Century, World War I, London Art

The Guildhall Art Gallery houses the art collection of the City of London. The current building was completed in 1999 in order to replace an earlier version which was destroyed in the Blitz.  There’s an impressive Victorian art collection with significant works by the pre-Raphaelites including those of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The gallery also holds the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, capable of holding 6000 spectators and which was discovered in 1988.

Address: The Guildhall Art Gallery, off Gresham Street, London EC2V 5AE   Nearest tube: Bank

Opening Times: Monday-Saturday: 10.00 – 17.00  Sunday: 12.00 – 16.00

 

Born in Paris. Made in London. Teller of London Tales.

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