Outer Temple becomes Bloomsbury set

Last month Outer Temple Chambers’ Michael Bowes QC appeared for the prosecution in one of the highest-profile murder cases of the year, the ’hair in hand murder’.

Jeremy Houghton’s Living on the Edge will be on view at the event
Jeremy Houghton’s Living on the Edge will be on view at the event

Italian Danilo Restivo was given a life sentence after he was found guilty of killing a Bournemouth mother and leaving a lock of someone else’s hair in her hand.

“What was particularly interesting was the Italian link,” says Bowes, referring to the fact that during the trial Restivo was also linked to the murder of 16-year-old Elisa Claps, who went missing in Italy in 1993. Whether he will be tried in Italy is yet to be decided.

Now that the trial is over, Bowes is looking forward to some less stressful activities, namely the organisation of the inaugural Bloomsbury Art Fair, which launches later this week.

The fair is the brainchild of prospective Middle Temple pupil Eva Anderson, who last summer worked for Bowes as a paralegal. Having broken her back in a horse-riding accident as a child, ­Anderson was looking for ­inspiration for a fundraising event that would raise support for people dealing with the after-effects of spinal cord injuries.

She met with gardener Annie Maw, who also suffers from back problems and who has also been rehabilitated at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre, and together they hatched a plan to launch an art fair.

They put the idea of the fair to Bowes in the hope that he would persuade chambers to support it. He responded with enthusiasm. “Michael’s the type of barrister who wants to get involved and help everyone,” Anderson says.

Coincidentally, Bowes met ­photographer David Constantine MBE, the founding member of disability charity Motivation, at a Middle Temple dinner, and he agreed to lend his support. Artist Lisa Gunn, who suffered complete paralysis following a car accident in 1997, also agreed toexhibit.

Traditionally Outer Temple has been a strong supporter of the Refugee Council, but Bowes encouraged chambers to broaden its support to include the art fair, which would help raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association, another Outer Temple charity.

“It grew from the back of an envelope,” Bowes explains. “Back in January 2010 we were deciding whether we should hold it in chambers as a modest event.”

However, demand exceeded their expectations and the ­decision was taken to look for a larger ­exhibition premises.

As a member of Goodenough College, Anderson was able to approach it for support. The ­college, which boasts Brick Court’s Jonathan Hirst QC as chair of its board, provides accommodation for graduate students from around the globe.

“I live at Goodenough College,” explains Anderson. “Part of its ethos is that you have to support the local community.”

The college agreed to let them use the premises for free. “The result was that we had huge buy-in,” Bowes says. That includedsupport from the Helium ­Foundation, an art dealership that sources ­original works.

Their aim, says Bowes, is to ­provide financial support to ­charities that help people move on following a catastrophic event.

When the exhibition opens on Wednesday 13 July it will boast art from 40 exhibitors, with works donated from artists including Banksy, Damien Hirst, Nick ­Walker and Takashi Murakami.

Demand has far exceeded expectations and Anderson ­anticipates that between 3,000 and 4,000 people will visit the three-day event.

“Everyone’s burnt the candle at both ends to get this event started,” says Bowes. “The inaugural year is always the hardest, but we’re lucky to have such strong support.”

That includes the backing of the Army’s Parachute Regiment, whose charity will also be boosted by the fair. It is planning a
double flyover with two Apache helicopters on the first day of the exhibition.

Bowes says the event has the potential to become an annual affair and could move into other areas. “It’s been a massive ­undertaking, but we’ve worked with some incredibly dynamic ­personalities and it’s been a ­hugely rewarding experience for us,” enthuses Bowes.

For chambers, corporate social responsibility events can help bind a team and give it a unified cause. In this case, Anderson, a former paralegal who takes up pupillage at a Middle Temple set in October, has motivated an entire ­community to come together for a worthy cause.