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ART INSTALLATION: Six Million

Version 2 2024-05-20, 13:24
Version 1 2023-05-10, 09:29
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posted on 2024-05-20, 13:24 authored by Helen NewallHelen Newall

Designed by Professor Helen Newall; soundscape by Dr Karen Lauke; figures created by the year 6 children of Nutgrove Methodist Primary School, Thatto Heath, St Helens.

This artwork is part of the ongoing commemoration project in which Helen Newall has engaged over the past few years. Practice research questions included:

  • How might the Holocaust be introduced and discussed with primary school-aged children?
  • How might we commemorate such histories through art?
  • How might singular artifacts be combined to create a collaborative art work?

The installation commemorates the six million who perished in the Holocaust for being Jewish. People were also murdered because they were disabled, Polish, Rumanian, Gypsies, or because they were homosexual, or considered to be different, or dissenters.

It was an artistic collaboration between Newall and the year six children of Nutgrove Methodist Primary School.

The product of this collaboration consists of a commemorative artwork which consisted of a table upon which was set a clay plaque of white figures. The figures were made by the children and were inspired by the commemorative work of Yugoslav artist, Nandor Glid (1924 – 1997), who survived Auschwitz, and forced labour. After the war, he went on to become an artist, creating stark and beautiful memorial sculptures, one of which stands today in the yard at Dachau Camp Memorial Site. The children and I looked at his work and talked about memory and remembrance, after which they worked very hard to create the beautiful clay figures you now see collected together in this memorial.

The figures were taken away and dried, and then collected together onto a wooden disc and sprayed white. A projection was created using fragments of text from the prayer for Holocaust Day, created in 2020 by Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; and Senior Imam, Qari Asim, and which is intended for use by people of any faith in their Holocaust Memorial Day activities. This was projected onto the disc, accompanied by a soundscape, audible through a hidden speaker.

The installation was installed as a memorial for Holocaust Memorial Day, in Thatto Heath library. On Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January 2023, the children came to a ceremony of prayers, which was also attended by local dignitaries. The work was then in situ for the following month for visitors to experience.

Six Million was commissioned by Cultural Hubs, delivered by and through St Helens Borough Council Library Service - an Arts Council England NPO.

The documents in this portfolio include:

19 x photographs documenting the artwork.

1 x photograph documenting Thatto Heath Library where the work was installed.

5 x press photographs courtesy of St Helens Borough Council Library Service.

1 x film demonstrating what was projected onto the clay figures.

1 x sound file demonstrating the soundscape which accompanied the work.

1 x film demonstrating the projection and sound combined superimposed over an image of the clay figures.

1 x PowerPoint documenting the photographs.

The work was featured in an interview with Helen Newall on the Sean Styles Show, BBC Radio Merseyside, 27 January 2023, and in several local newspapers.

Funding

St Helens Borough Council

History

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