I have always wanted to visit St Paul’s Cathedral, so when I was invited to an exhibition currently being held there I jumped at the chance.
The exhibition in question was a display of 200 1m x 1m square tapestries created by the children of 200 schools along the Thames. The tapestries depicted scenes capturing the essence the Thames from Oxford all the way to Southend, with everything in between. What was fascinating about them was seeing the river Thames, and to a wider degree today’s Britain, from a child’s perspective. I found it very interesting that this exhibition coincides with Grayson Perry’s tapestries, both utilizing an ancient technique to tell us something about ourselves today. Whilst admiring the work, and talking to the children, I couldn’t help but think ‘the kids are alright’. In an age so worried about the future and morality of our kids, especially those growing up in London, these children’s sensitive, observant nature and pride in their local area makes me think these children have bright futures ahead of them.
The tapestries themselves were stunning to look at. More than just tapestries, they also employed applique, embroidery and quilting techniques. The creativity and ingenuity of the children was fantastic. As I spoke to the children involved I realised what a long and involved process it was for them. In one school, the children all started by drawing things about their local area and the Thames that were important to them. The best sketches were then selected and combined to create the layout for the 1m square tapestry. Colours were chosen and the image was painted before the technical planning began. Raw materials like cotton, wool, fabric, buttons and ribbons were chosen and production began. For some schools this process took a few weeks, for others several months from conception to completion. Walking along the display gave the feeling of walking along the Thames, the geography changing as you go.
The children who created these stunning works of art must surely feel pride in them, and we too, as we gaze upon them, feel pride for our nation, its rivers, fields, cities and beaches so lovingly depicted, but also pride in its children.St. Paul’s itself is every bit as stunning as I expected it to be and more. I highly recommend you visit the cathedral and the exhibition.