Bakers and Cooks joint visit to the Guildhall for the Echoes Across the Country Exhibition

At mid-day on Tuesday 25th April a small group of Liverymen from both the Bakers and the Cooks met at the entrance to the Guildhall  Art Gallery, The Bakers were led by Deputy Master Colin Reese QC, and the Cooks by their Master, Michael Thatcher.
Once we had introduced ourselves to one another we were welcomed to the Echoes Across the Century exhibition by Alison Truphet. Alison is Project Manager for Livery Schools Link – which together with the artist Jane Churchill  has worked  for the last year with 11 Livery Companies and with 13 schools across London exploring the roles of trades and industries in the supply chain to WW1.
The Cooks and the Bakers teamed together for the project, and worked with students from Highbury Fields and Brecknock Schools. 
Sara Autton, who is our primary link with Livery Schools Link wrote a report a few months ago about the project, which is still available on the website here – so I won’t repeat all those details here. 
For our Livery Society Event, we were delighted that some of the students from Highbury Fields School for Girls were able to come along, and tell us a little more about the work  that they had done for the project. Indeed, they made it very clear that it had brought to life what was otherwise only history. There is a video as part of the exhibition in which we watched Sara at the HAC helping the students to make a typical dish that would have been served to troops on the front line.
Once Alison had given us a brief introduction to the exhibition, the girls then showed us round – including their very own artwork.
Moths are an important feature of the exhibition; there are literally hundreds and hundreds of them  - all paper, but based on real species (I could pick out the Old Lady and the Mother Shipton, for the record !). Jane Churchill used the moths as a symbol of the soul –  ‘fluttering out under cover of darkness, like soldiers climbing out of the trenches at night to cross no man’s land…. fragile….. against the machines of war.’ The students worked on the basis of ‘one man, one moth’. It was very moving.
Another theme that made many appearances in the exhibits were ‘lachrymatoria’ – which are literally bottles of tears, that loved ones would collect, and then seal with a cork stopper. Highly personal little cupboards were found (when one opened the door) to be filled with these extraordinary momentos. Once again, very touching, and very private & personal.
Here is a link to the blog on the Exhibition:
Afterwards we all repaired to Davy’s, Woolgate (which is ‘round the corner’)  for some finger food and a glass of wine – and an opportunity to mingle with members of another Livery Company.
Whilst this an excellent and moving exhibition, it is a lot more than that. It demonstrates the wider involvement of City Livery Companies in the community – especially with this clear focus on education.

If you haven’t yet been to it, you MUST !!  - it is free, and runs until 16th July.