Today Stephen Fry joins a diverse group of British artists and Holocaust and genocide survivors in launching a major new arts project in which survivors’ stories will be interpreted and explored through writing, poetry, film, ceramics, illustration and collage.
Launching today - 70 days before Holocaust Memorial Day - the Memory Makers project is pairing seven artists with survivors of genocide living in the UK. The artists have partnered with survivors to hear their remarkable life stories, before creating a work of art that captures the experience of the meeting, and explores the horrors and consequences of the atrocities.
Stephen Fry met with 89-year-old Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a cellist and a surviving member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz. He is currently working on a written response to the memories she shared with him at her home in London. He hope his contributions encourages more people to contribute to the project:
‘The grotesque and growing spectre of Holocaust denial makes it more and more urgent for the young, now so many more generations separated from the Shoah, to listen to those who went through it and to understand the meaning of it. How else can its repetition – against any racial or other group in any society – be prevented? By meeting with Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and contributing to the Memory Makers project I hope more people will mark Holocaust Memorial Day by reading and listening to the testimony of Holocaust survivors.’
Alongside Stephen Fry, British artists who are taking part in the project are ceramicist Clare Twomey; visually impaired illustrator Kimberly Burrows; Welsh animator Gemma Green-Hope; collage artist Martin O’Neil, in collaboration with filmmaker Andrew Griffin; poet Sarah Hesketh; and film director Debs Paterson. Visit the Memory Makers website to find out about the survivors they have been paired with.
Our Moving Portraits are also included on the Memory Makers website as a completed project. You can explore these animated photographs created by Will Head to see how they bring to life survivor stories through objects that are significant to the subjects of the images.
Become a Memory Maker
We are asking you to get involved with the Memory Makers project by sharing these powerful stories of survivors with your family and friends.
You can also create and submit your own artistic response to the life stories of survivors in the same way that our Memory Makers artists are doing. The best submissions will be showcased in our online gallery.
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, says:
‘It is absolutely vital that the lessons of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides are not lost to history. Survivors’ experiences remind us how important it is to confront all forms of hatred and discrimination, and this group of British artists is helping to interpret their stories in new ways.’
Memory Makers ensures that a new generation can engage with these important stories from the Holocaust, as well as from genocides that have happened since. It’s crucial for us all to remember that genocide doesn’t happen to black and white crowds in history documentaries, it happens to colourful individuals with unique stories.
Play your part and Keep the memory alive by sharing the life story of a survivor.
Take part in the project and find out more about the survivors and artists involved by visiting Keepthememoryalive.hmd.org.uk.
Be inspired by the artists and life stories to submit your own personal artistic response for Holocaust Memorial Day 2015.
Artworks will be revealed in January, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January 2015.