Friday, 5 December 2008

Bring light towards you

A remarkable art project bringing together older Jewish people, Imperial War Museum North and the Morris Feinmann Home in Manchester will commemorate the holocaust in poems displayed at Piccadilly Railway Station, Manchester.

On Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January 2009) poetic texts created by the older people, many of whom are holocaust survivors, will be displayed in lights on the electronic billboard at Piccadilly Station, Manchester. The holocaust has often been linked to trains: millions of people, particularly Jews, were taken to concentration camps by train before being killed in the notorious nazi Final Solution during the Second World War. This artwork will give fragments from accounts of their journeys: to destruction and journeys of escape.

‘Kindness’ is one of many arts projects run by the arthur+martha organisation; artist Lois Blackburn and poet Philip Davenport have been working with older Jewish people living at The Morris Feinmann Home, Manchester, exploring issues in regard to the holocaust. John Collins from Imperial War Museum-North is part of the team, bringing objects and personal stories from the museum collection to discuss and prompt memories.

“This work is made up of family histories, experiences of displacement, refugee backgrounds and direct holocaust memories,” says Davenport. “We are interested in the bric-a-brac of people’s lives, the tiny moments, rather than the grand history. We called the project Kindness because some of these people experienced a terrible lack of kindness. And because they were persecuted for being a certain ‘kind’ of cultural group.”

Lois Blackburn added: “It’s a privilege to meet the wonderful people at Morris Feinmann and we are delighted about our collaboration with Imperial War Museum North too. This is important work, but it touches very deep memories and we will tread delicately. One of the women we worked with used the phrase ‘Bring light towards you’ in a poem and that little phrase seems to sum up our philosophy for this project – whether it is the light of realisation, of finding hope, or simply of clear recollection.”

Maria Turner, Activities Co-ordinator at the Morris Feinmann Home, described the effect of arthur+martha’s work: “In a very sensitive and caring approach, the project has enabled our residents to talk about their experiences and express their feelings.”

From 24-31 January 2009, Imperial War Museum North will be hosting a series of free events to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, including gallery tours, lectures, musical performances and storytelling. The Museum also runs regular object handling sessions and tours for school groups learning about the Holocaust.

Funding for Kindness has been provided by the Clore Duffield Foundation, through Sparks: The Clore Jewish Development Fund.

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