Holocaust & Memory Reframed – Breath Becomes Air
The aim of the project ‘Holocaust and Memory Reframed’ was to produce a series of international art installations and initiatives based at the Lake District Holocaust Project over two summer and autumn periods in 2016 and 2017.
The exhibitions look at work that explore aspects of Post Holocaust arts and culture and relate to “the representation of the unrepresentational”.
Ian Walton’s exhibition/installation was the second important contribution to the Holocaust & Memory Reframed programme, that includes significant artists from throughout Europe. This was on display in Autumn 2016.
Ian is based in the Lake District in England and his artistic concerns ally closely to certain aspects of the Lake District Holocaust Project (LDHP) and its attempt to deal with the changing nature of Holocaust memorialisation and commemoration.
Ian Walton’s attention to detail together with his use of found objects and material can be interpreted as a multi-dimensional travelogue of place and time.
Ian travelled to locations in Krakow and Prague during which he encountered Auschwitz Birkenau and Theresienstadt. His visit to Budapest in Hungary led to him witnessing aspects of Holocaust memorialization that informed the use of shoes as a significant element of the installation at Windermere.
It is notable that he made these journeys unknowingly at the same time as LDHP was emerging in Windermere. This synchronicity is heightened by the fact that that there were children from Poland and Hungary amongst those who came to Windermere in 1945, and a significant number of the three hundred children had passed through Auschwitz before being finally liberated from Theresienstadt.
The Memory Quilt – 9 June to 3 September 2016
The Memory Quilt (of 2015) was displayed alongside our permanent exhibition and was the first exhibition for Holocaust & Memory Reframed. This is a transnational installation arts project that brought together artists with makers from throughout the world. The four hangings were originally displayed for only one day in Windermere in August 2015.
The quilt represents all 732 of the only child Holocaust Survivors of the Nazi Concentration Camps, including 80 girls, who could be found at the end of World War 11. They formed a closely-knitted ‘family’ that collectively became known as ‘The Boys’. Many of these Survivors belong to the ’45 Aid Society, a unique organisation of Holocaust Survivors and their families. The Survivors, their children and grandchildren created over one hundred and fifty sections of work to mark the 70th anniversary since liberation day and to commemorate the lives of their parents and grandparents, and to keep their memories alive. These sections form the four hangings and each are a viscerally emotive and immersive experience that mirror the ripples of time and memorialisation.
The Memory Quilt project was conceived by Julia Burton who subsequently worked with the Survivors and their families. Special thanks are due to Julia, to her team of invaluable volunteers, and to members of the ’45 Aid Committee and the Second Generation for their continuing support.
Memory Quilt – The Boys : four hangings
The Memory Quilt book – © ’45 Aid Society
A CCTV camera beamed footage from the out of bounds basement of the library building onto a monitor placed, under Miroslaw Balka’s direction, in the window of the main gallery where the permanent exhibition From Auschwitz to Ambleside is displayed.
Both the careful positioning of this monitor within the gallery and the film itself created a dialogue with the darkness of the haunting moving film “Nacht und Nebel”, a second film by Balka. ‘Nacht-und-Nebel’ was a secret Nazi operation that started in 1941 where thousands of people ‘disappeared’. The film was shot during a foggy night in January 2014 in a forest near the artist’s studio in Poland.
Subtle relationships were created between the darkness and the passage to the light, both figuratively and literally.
The basement carries with it the chill spectre of an unidentified presence and creates an immediate atmosphere between light and dark, hot and cold, preservation and decay, freedom and captivity. This basement is not accessible and yet we can see it through the lens of a camera. We look into a forbidden, unknown space.
The symbolism of the basement film and DVD “Towards the Light” is more complex than first appears and is infinitely more so when set against the film “Nacht und Nebel” which was exclusively on loan for display in late 2015.
Flowers of Auschwitz
As part of the events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the child Holocaust Survivors in the Lake District, flowers were planted in the grounds of the library and an exhibition displayed in the touring gallery.
The exhibition and garden project were inspired by the book of the same name, ‘Flowers of Auschwitz’ by Zinovii Tolkatchev, a solider and artist. Tolkatchev was one of the liberators of Auschwitz Birkenau and his drawings of the surviving children, made at the time, have remarkable tenderness and compassion. He likened the child survivors he saw in Auschwitz Birkenau to being like flowers in a bleak and desperate landscape.
The project, by Trevor Avery and Rose Smith, linked a nursery garden and farm at Rajsko in Poland with the LDHP in Windermere. It looked at the beginnings of the nursery garden and its proximity to Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum and provided a link to the iconic book.
A short distance away from the main camp lay Raisko, one of the many sub-camps linked to the main Auschwitz complex. A gatehouse marked the entrance to a vast complex of greenhouses that Jewish prisoners had built and worked in.
The greenhouses were initially used to grow a variety of dandelion for experiments with the production of a synthetic rubber. Later, vegetables and fruit were grown specifically for the Nazis who lived and worked at Auschwitz and at the other sub-camps in the area.
Although now part of a commercially run nursery garden that grows geraniums and chrysanthemums, the original greenhouses have remained virtually untouched since 1945.
The exhibition told the story of these greenhouses, with images and footage of the site put on public display for the first time in the UK. In the garden a colour coded selection of flowers and shapes were planted by over 50 primary school children from Windermere.
Portraits for Posterity
Portraits for Posterity is an ongoing project documenting Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust who have settled in Britain Portraits for Posterity. We are delighted to be able to present some of the photographs in a small exhibition which will be on display for several months. They are taken by Matt Writtle, an acclaimed photographer, who has worked for most of the National Newspaper Groups and the Press Association News Agency Matt Writtle. Some of the images include those Survivors who arrived in the Lake District in August 1945 and include those of Jack Aizenberg, Ike Alterman and Mayer Hersh. Short biographies accompany the photographs.
The Paradise Route
An Arts Council England, North West individual award to Trevor Avery resulted in an arts project with Sonic Artist Mark Peter Wright that utilised original field recordings by Chris Atkins. The project developed along with valuable design and artistic input from Rosemary Smith and Neasden Control Centre.
A mapping project involved imagery and sound inspired by locations from north Cumbria to Windermere. Trevor Avery produced a mind map for the exhibition on the walls in the temporary gallery space at the Lake District Holocaust Project. Using text and images he described the route taken by the Jewish children in the Lake District and set it in the context of his personal journey since 2004, the beginnings of LDHP. The exhibition included a film of the piece being installed.
When three hundred Jewish children arrived at Crosby on Eden airfield near Carlisle on 14 August 1945, they were taken by road through the heart of the Lake District to Calgarth Estate, a long demolished wartime housing scheme near Windermere village.
From Dove Cottage and the home of Romanticism to a street scene in the bustling centre of a busy tourist destination, the journey looks and listens to locations and sounds today that would not have been so dissimilar to those that a special group of children saw and heard in 1945.
The project invites the viewing listener to travel back and forward through time and geographic space to 1945, then on through to 2004 (the beginning of the reinvigoration of the story in the Lake District), and finally to 2013 and the establishment of the Lake District Holocaust Project in Windermere Library.
Calgarth Estate was to be the first home in the UK for the children and their stay in the Lake District was described by them as like “arriving in Paradise”.
This is the third part of a trilogy that leads through “From Auschwitz to Ambleside” in 2006, “The Avenue of Exile” in 2009 and finally to “The Paradise Route” in 2013.
Below is a short excerpt from the film of Trevor Avery’s installation, and photographs taken of the mind map, by Rosemary Smith.
Sonic Artist Mark Wright edited original field recordings by Chris Atkins that were gathered along the route during the summer of 2013.
The sound of mysterious mechanical operations jostle alongside bubbling streams and ticking clocks (from the former home of William Wordsworth) and the whole ten tracks create a moving and provocative soundscape CD that works in tandem with the visual map (complete with its information index).
This sample track from Crosby on Eden airfield was taken in 2013 and has a timeless, haunting quality ….
A map was designed by Neasden Control Centre from material and information gathered along the route from an original idea by Trevor Avery. The map shows a list of locations along the road route from Crosby on Eden to Windermere. The locations relate either to stories gathered from some of the Jewish children through interviews or to sites that feed into the construct that is the Lake District and its Romantic “Sublime” identity.
The map itself has comments incorporated onto the design from four of the Jewish children. Taken from recent interviews, the comments shine a light on how the children felt about being in the Lake District after so many years of unimaginable suffering.
An “index” on the reverse of the map includes stories and narratives that relate directly and indirectly to either the Jewish children themselves or to the local context that they found themselves in.
The locations on the route:
1. The Lake District Holocaust Project at Windermere Library.
2. Beech Street, Windermere
3. Orrest Head
4. Low Miller Ground
5. Queen Adelaide Hill
6. Troutbeck Bridge
7. Calgarth Estate
8. White Cross Bay
9. The Wordsworth Trust and Dove Cottage
10. Crosby on Eden Airfield near Carlisle