The residents of Gunnislake have collectively brought together present-day talents and effort to remember the boys and men from the village who did not return from the First World War. As the country remembers the celebration of the end of the War one hundred years ago, young and old in the village are doing their best as well. It’s a joint outreach venture between the GCM creative cafe and St Anne’s Church.
Several members of the community came up with ideas separately and, like Topsy, it all just grew. Firstly, Katy Chorszewska took over a year to design and plan a commemorative banner as part of a community art project. She said, “The banner will be displayed on the village hall railings during November and shows seventy-two large poppies, each with a label naming one of the dead listed on St Anne’s Church war memorial. It’s 9.5 metres long and 62 cm tall. I’ve been weather-testing a sample out in my garden to make sure it stands up to our Cornish weather.”
The banner art work was first worked on at the Gunnislake Festival Art Cafe. Children from Gunnislake School came along and between them stencilled twentyfour of the poppies. Katy continued, “It was lovely to work with them; they were so enthusiastic and several of the older children particularly wanted to know the name of the soldier that “their” poppy was for.” Since the summer, the banner has been completed at Creative Cafe sessions.
Alongside the banner project, another local craft group, Stitch & Bitch, challenged local residents to make poppies to add to the display. And the village has responded magnificently with about two thousand poppies being knitted, crocheted or sewn. Most of them are red but a few are purple to represent the horses lost in the war. The poppies will be hung on nets on the Village Hall wall behind the banner. Carol said, “We thought it was very fitting to use the Village Hall, formerly known as the Public Hall, because it had been newly opened just before World War One and was used as one of the focal points in the village during the war.
A programme of events has now been devised around the art installation. Firstly, there will be a short blessing service outside the village hall on Sunday 4th November at 12 noon led by the Rev Chris Painter, who was delighted to be involved, with light refreshments and a time to chat in the hall afterwards.
Bringing together more creative talent, there will be a “Gunnislake Remembers” evening in Gunnislake Village Hall on Saturday 17th November from 7 p.m. It will be a commemorative evening of First World War poems, readings and community singing. Admission is by ticket only, available free from the Post Office, over 14s only. It’s BYO alcohol plus snacks and soft drinks to buy. Calstock Parish Archive will also stage an exhibition of photos and artefacts.