News item from 2012

Thames Tapestry

The Ashmolean displays the first exhibition of the Thames Heritage Tapestry made by schoolchildren from across Oxfordshire

The Ashmolean Museum will host the first exhibition of the Thames Heritage Tapestry from 4 - 11 January, a project run by The Millennium Tapestry Company in partnership with the Thames Heritage Trust.

On display will be a 3 x 14m section of the tapestry made by children from schools across Oxfordshire and elsewhere along the River Thames.

The whole tapestry has been made collaboratively by more than 200 schools along the River, from its source in Gloucestershire to the estuary at Southend-on-Sea. Each school has completed a 1 metre square canvas depicting different aspects of the river in their own area. The end result is a multifaceted portrait of the Thames through the eyes of the children who live along its banks.

The Thames was once described as ‘liquid history’. An estimated 50,000 children have brought the Thames history to life by taking part in researching the impact of the river on life, work and the environment as well as creating artwork for the project.

The Thames Heritage Tapestry is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the City Bridge Trust, the Ernest Cook Trust, the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, and many other trusts and organizations. The project has just been awarded the Inspire Mark by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Lord Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said, “The Inspire programme is ensuring the legacy of the 2012 Games starts now as projects like the Thames Heritage Tapestry are enabling children along the Thames to make positive life changes.”

Dr Christopher Brown CBE, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, said, “We are delighted to be hosting the first exhibition of the Thames Heritage Tapestry at the Ashmolean. This is an extraordinary collaborative achievement, which has brought together so many ideas and creative talents, bringing to life the history of the Thames.”

Lizzie Owen, Chief Executive of The Millennium Tapestry Company, says, “The Thames Heritage Tapestry project is a totally joyful celebration of everything that makes the river so iconic. It is purely educational and wholly inclusive, providing everyone involved with a basis for acquiring new skills that will lead on to a lifelong learning adventure. We can’t wait to see the young people’s work displayed.”

Paul Coleman, Chairman of the Thames Heritage Trust, says, “"We are delighted with the success of this initiative, which is helping young people and their families along the Thames to learn more about the River.”

For the Heritage Lottery Fund, Head of HLF South East England, Stuart McLeod, said: “This imaginative project mobilises thousands of children and their families to tell the ever-flowing tale that links thousands of communities both physically and throughout history.”

Clare Thomas, Chief Grants Officer of the City Bridge Trust, says, “The Trust is delighted to be supporting the Thames Heritage Tapestry project. We have seen the work produced by young people in previous schemes run by MTC, which are quite inspirational, and fully expect the same this time round. We very much look forward to seeing the finished work, which will offer a unique and engaging view of the Thames from children's perspectives.”

Dates: Wednesday 4 – Thursday 11 January 2012
Entry: Free Admission
Venue: Gallery 21
Photo Call: Friday 6 January 2012, 11am - 12pm

The Millennium Tapestry Company runs collaborative arts projects for schools that support and enrich the National Curriculum. The company delivered the UK Millennium Tapestry in 2000 and the Commonwealth-wide Golden Tapestry in 2006.

The Thames Heritage Trust was formed in 1979 and is a registered charity that provides grants for improving leisure, education and cultural facilities to stimulate use and interest in the River Thames

The expression ‘liquid history’ was coined by trade unionist and politician John Elliot Burns, after whom one of the Woolwich Ferries is named.


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