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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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