Croydon joins the City of London Livery Education Link

By - Wednesday 2nd November, 2016

Rufus Jones on representing his Croydon school in a London-wide art project to commemorate the First World War

Photo author’s own.

At the school office, I was greeted by a very enthusiastic looking teacher. I was rather nervous at the time due to being summoned to reception for a reason unbeknownst to me. I sat down next to a few familiar faces as the teacher walked in. His first words were “Don’t worry everyone, you’re not in trouble, you’ve all been entered into a World War I art project!”.

We found out that project is funded by the National Heritage Lottery, and thirteen schools and sixteen livery companies will be involved. The project is called ‘Echoes across the Century’ and hopes to interest children and young people in the heritage of City Livery companies. Students between 7 and 17 will be able to take part. The project is also very inclusive and not just for wealthy schools: one of its goals is to give children from less privileged backgrounds an enhanced educational experience, thereby increasing their career opportunities and chances to succeed in life.

We created art using salt, coffee grains, watered down coffee and ink

The day had finally come, after a long wait, for the project to begin. I was so thrilled to start. We were to be working with Jane Churchill, who is a set designer, for an entire week in the art room of our school (Archbishop Tenison’s). Jane loves to create dramatic characters’ worlds through set-making. She briefly explained the project to us. We then had a talk from the people at livery company. I have to admit that bit wasn’t the most entertaining start to a week of art but you know it’s better than algebra!

First we started on a mini project to get us used to the equipment we’d be using throughout the week. The main pieces of equipment that we used were salt, coffee grains, watered down coffee, ink and brown paint: very strange objects to be using to create art. We decided to make moths after we heard the story of a woman during the war who made these with tiny figures of men on them to symbolize the men that died. Underneath each moth would be the places the men had fought, and the numbers that had died.

Jane Churchill and Rufus Jones.
Photo by Archbishop Tenison’s Croydon, used with permission.

We also saw a box of bottles which contained water representing tears of mourning. Mourners in the past drew the blinds, wore black, sent children elsewhere in the home and gave time to expressing their sadness for days on end. It was an such interesting thing to learn about although also rather sad and strange.

Next day, we were taken on a trip to the Museum of Branding in Ladbroke Grove. From the outside the building was rather modern which was a surprise to me as I thought it was going to be drab, colourless and quite dismal. Jane met us at the door and we entered. The idea of the visit was to look at how art is used to communicate messages.

We explored, drew pictures, labeled sheets and more. When we had stopped to eat our lunch something very unexpected happened: the creator of the museum actually walked up to us and started talking to us about how he got the inspiration to create this place.

On Wednesday back in school, we put all our ideas together and started the real deal project. Everything was explained by Jane. We were finally starting the actual project but it was a type of art that I was unfamiliar with. But I was open to a challenge and at first was finding it hard but after a while I found myself enjoying it quite a bit as it got very interesting. We started to create a background for where our piece of artwork would sit. We were also given a soldier and told to do research on that person.

After that we decorated a tin by sticking pictures onto it. The tin symbolised what all the soldiers held dear, and usually they’d put that something in a tin. For the rest of the week we decorated and produced the items inside our soldier’s tin.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed the project and it was a great experience for me. I tried out a new form of art and it was very interesting and entertaining. Working with the artist was incredible and I hope to do more things like this in the future.

Rufus Jones

Rufus Jones

Rufus is in year 10 at Archbishop Tenison's School, Croydon. He has a passion for art and design and a keen interest in history and writing, taking after his father. In his spare time he enjoys gaming.

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  • Anne Giles

    Well done!