“While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again… is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
One year ago today my friend and colleague, Jo Cox, a dedicated internationalist, passionate social justice campaigner, brilliant MP and loving mother, was tragically killed in a brutal attack outside her constituency advice surgery by a far-right fanatic. 16 June 2016 was a devastating day for politics, the country, and our democracy. It was the blackest day of my political career.
Yet in an ingenious move organised by Jo’s husband Brendan, and in defiance of the division and hate her killer sought to sow, hundreds of thousands of people across the country will gather for the Great Get Together, at street parties, bake-offs and barbecues, to celebrate Jo’s personal and political legacy.
At the V&A, we’ve designed a gallery trail inspired by Jo. Visitors will be taken on a journey through the Museum to discover objects which speak to her life story and values. From Augustus Pugin’s distinctive Parliament Wallpaper, to an eighteenth century anti-slavery medallion highlighting Jo’s humanitarian work in conflict zones, or a Thomas Creswick painting of Perthshire representing her love of the great British outdoors, our object trail offers a thought-provoking contemplation of the myriad layers of Jo’s inspirational personality and life.
The Great Get Together is particularly important at a time when our country has been shaken by the horrific terror attacks in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge, and the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower. Jo’s beliefs resonate now more than ever.
The V&A’s Great Get Together gallery trail has been designed by V&A curator Kate Bailey.
Augustus Pugin, Wallpaper design for the Houses of Parliament, ca. 1851 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Medallion for the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, made at Josiah Wedgwood’s factory, Etruria, Staffordshire, ca. 1787 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Thomas Creswick R.A, Scene on The Tummel, Perthshire, 1844 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London