First look: New Jo Cox memorial exhibition at the People’s History Museum

#LoveLikeJo artwork, 2016. By Drue Kataoka

On 15 July 2016, British Politician and Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered outside a library in West Yorkshire during a constituency surgery. 

The new ‘More in Common: in memory of Jo Cox’ exhibition opened up to the public on May 19 at People’s History Museum in Manchester, showcasing a collection of community-led projects inspired by Jo’s life and legacy. 

Our reporter David McLenachan has been down to take a look at the installation and meet key artist John Priestly.

Courtesy of the People’s History Museum

Visitors to the exhibition can find out more about Jo’s life, her story and experiences, what led her to become an MP, and how her campaigning was driven by a desire to see equality in education, the promotion of closer communities, and addressing loneliness.

Central to the installation is the Jo Cox Memorial Wall, which has gone on public display for the first time since Jo’s murder when it was erected outside the Houses of Parliament.

The wall features the handwritten tributes of hundreds of people, including children, and will stand alongside a new virtual Wall of Hope, where visitors will be able to add their personal tribute messages.

Kim Leadbeater MBE, Jo’s sister and Ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation, said: “This exhibition is a fantastic way to remember Jo, her life and her work. It has a special resonance as it coincides with the fifth anniversary of Jo being taken from us.

“As a family, we have taken the opportunity to go through the piles of photos and other memories of Jo and many of these will go on display for the first time.

John Priestly with his work

“It’s been a bittersweet experience, of course, but we are hugely grateful to everybody at People’s History Museum for their work in putting on what I know will be an amazing and inspirational exhibition.

“I hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity to see it in person if possible but if not online.

“This will be a very colourful exhibition, with lots of visual objects illuminating different aspects of ‘more in common’.

“This includes a series of mixed media canvases of the More in Common project group that will form a montage around a portrait of Jo Cox created by artist John Priestly.

“42 small squares with 21 portraits take the approach of a jigsaw puzzle to illustrate ‘more in common’ with Jo shown at different stages of her life.”

We met John to get some insight into the work and inspirations behind the exhibition. 

 

Abir Tobji, CultureLabs Project Manager at People’s History Museum, said: “Jo’s beliefs and message reach out to everyone and represent the values that she lived by, just as this exhibition is intended to reach out to everyone.

“Jo’s story joins the stories of individuals who embody her belief in ‘more in common’ and highlights the realities of a diverse world, both from an individual and collective perspective.

“We hope all of the stories will inspire visitors to gain a greater appreciation of the power of a ‘more in common’ view of the world.”

John Priestly with his artwork

The exhibition will be on display until 24 April 2022 and will be accompanied by a self-guided trail that has been specially developed for families.

The exhibition can also be accessed online, meaning that anyone anywhere in the world can add a tribute to Jo.

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