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1) Dark Shadows
1996 - 97 Oil on Panels, 183 x 244 cm
2) Shoes from Madjdanek
2002 - 03 Oil on Panel, 183 x 244 cm
3) Polish Journey
1998 Oil on Panel, 183 x 183 cm
The Royal Scottish Academy Diploma Collection
4) Auschwitz Memorial
1999 - 2003 Oil on Panel, 213 x 366 cm
Collection of the Artist
Germany and Poland
In 1995 I arranged to go with Milestone on their ‘Third Reich Tour’. I thought that it would give me a more direct experience and greater understanding of the people, places and events about which I had only read. After visiting the Wannsee Centre in Berlin, Dachau and Mauthausen concentration camps, Terezin, and Lidice, I felt it necessary to continue my journey on to Poland.
It was never my intention to create paintings depicting the Holocaust. I felt that I had no right, not could I even begin to portray the suffering, torture, barbarity and genocide which the Nazis inflicted, not only on Jewish people, but also on Russian prisoners of war, gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners and the populations of countries which they had invaded. In Poland I went to Treblinka, Madjanek, Auschwitz, Birkenau, Gross Rosen and Pawiak Prison in Warsaw, as well as the remains of the Ghettos and Gestapo headquarters.
Nothing could prepare one for the inherent evil and chill of these places where millions had died in unspeakable cruelty and degradation at the hands of the sadists and psychopaths who were part of the German Reich. If selected for the work force, an individual’s life expectancy might only be a few months, as in addition to those sent to the gas chambers, many were shot or hanged for minor infractions whilst others died of dysentery, typhus or malnutrition. Even when it was obvious that the war was lost, the Nazis did not end their reign of terror but forced prisoners on death marches or onto trains without provisions to be sent on interminable journeys causing needless anguish and loss of life.
Again it was the sad belongings, which made me feel, that through them, I could perhaps make a contribution to the remembrance of their owners.