News from our partners: Shropshire Holocaust memorial flame artwork chosen for national event
News from our partners South Shropshire Interfaith Forum
South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, with whom Shropshire Council works closely on ways to commemorate the Holocaust and other genocides, has been successful in a bid to see artwork selected for a national exhibition to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. This will be in London on Holocaust Memorial Day, Monday 27 January 2020.
The artwork was produced by local children from Syrian refugee families settled in Shropshire, at a family event held at the mosque in Craven Arms. It takes the cherry tree leaf as its motif in recognition of the work that the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum and the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum carry out with the Council and local primary schools to plant a memorial cherry tree every year in Shropshire. It comprises painted leaves that together form a flame, over a map of Shropshire.
Lois Dale, Shropshire Council’s rurality and equalities specialist, said:-
“I am absolutely delighted to be able to congratulate the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum for its success in seeing Shropshire represented as one of the seventy-five flames that will together commemorate 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.
“It was a privilege to see the artwork come to life, and it will be wonderful to see Shropshire represented on the national stage. Here in the county we will continue in our collective endeavours to ensure that our primary school children learn about the Holocaust, and that it is never forgotten. We will plant our next cherry trees in the south west of the county in 2020, as we continue to grow a cherry tree orchard of remembrance with our interfaith forums and local schools in Shropshire.
“The cherry trees will be planted at Onny School and at Lydbury North School, one from Shropshire Council and one from the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum. The schools together form the St Michael’s Federation and take trees as their theme, growing together, making it a very apt choice for 2020. We will once again be supported by Mereside School, where the first cherry tree was planted in 2015.”
Mark Michaels, for the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, said:
“South Shropshire Interfaith Forum is delighted to work with Shropshire Council in the essential work of recognising Holocaust Memorial Day and assisting schools to develop children’s understanding at an appropriate level of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The Shropshire commemorative cherry tree orchard is growing and the recognition of our efforts with the inclusion of our interfaith inspired and developed artwork in the national commemoration will help us in our work.”
Rochelle Russell, who co-ordinated the art project for the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, added:
“It was an absolute privilege to work with the Syrian refugee children on this project – it really brought home the message of hope we need to pass on to each generation, that we gain strength and support from each other if we stand together in the face of adversity. I am thrilled that our artwork has been chosen and so proud of all of the children involved.”
For 2020, for which the theme is ’Stand Together’, more than 300 groups from across the country registered to take part in the nationwide project, 75 Memorial Flames. 75 Memorial Flames have been chosen to represent each year since the liberation of Auschwitz and will be displayed at an exhibition which will be unveiled at the UK Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.
The local background here is that Shropshire Council is continuing efforts to grow a cherry tree orchard of remembrance across Shropshire, working with primary and secondary schools and inter faith forums and local Shropshire Councillors. We identify a primary school each year, and are seeking to spread the orchard across the county and to cover all points of the compass in so doing. The schools for 2020 represent the south and west of the county.
The 2019 tree was planted at St Peter’s CofE School in Wem, representing the north and east of the county. We linked the HMD 2019 theme with the support given in Shropshire to Syrian refugee families making their homes here. The council utilised resources from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust alongside resources developed by Mereside CofE Primary School, including a reading list. All schools were sent details of the resources and the annual theme.
Locally, the HMD 2019 events with Shropshire schools were supported by local Jewish author Natalie Cumming, whose book “The Fiddle” is about her family violin. Her aunt Rosa played the violin in three concentration camps (Mauthausen, Auschwitz and Belsen) and was part of the women’s orchestra in each camp. The violin was returned to her after being taken away on her arrival in Auschwitz. Violin maker/restorer John Dilworth restored the violin for a BBC programme The Repair Shop. It has now been donated in perpetuity in memory of her aunt and her father to the Yehudi Menuhin school. The well-known violinist, Chris Garrick, composed a piece especially for the programme called Rosa’s Wishing Waltz.
Dr Derry Bertenshaw, the Organist at St Giles Church, Wenlock Road, Shrewsbury, subsequently composed a special piece of music inspired by the book, which was first performed at the Abbey in Shrewsbury on 15 May 2019.
For more information, please see resources on the HMD Trust website at www.hmd.org.uk