Kindness at Morris Feinmann Home in Didsbury, working with older Jewish people, including holocaust survivors. The first stage was to put together a collection of works called Paracetemol Soup, a mix of poems, artwork and recipes, launched at Manchester Central Library. The collection intercuts older Jewish peoples’ poems made from early memories with recipes and artworks; it is a subtle meditation on the holocaust, including contributions by holocaust survivors.
Then Bring Light Towards You, a large digital textwork launched at Piccadilly Railway Station on Holocaust Memorial Day 2009. You can see the short animations here
The things that stay in your mind. A woman described leaving Berlin, getting onboard the kindertransport train. Her mother waving goodbye with a sandwich that she’d forgotten to give her daughter. The mother died in Germany, they did not see one another again. Another day. A conversation with a woman who’d survived Auschwitz. She wanted to tell us about the experience, but each time she began to speak, the memories would self-erase – she described them melting away. Perhaps the amnesia protected her. Another. A quiet man sitting with two talkative companions. He had managed to get out of one of the camps, but had a memento – a gouge in his skull, left by a blow with an iron bar from an SS man. He gently put my fingers onto the wound – “See?”
The poems were made into 30 second films and on 27 January 2009 they were shown on a huge screen at Piccadilly Station. Audience approx, 60K.
Among them were a little group of survivors, who came with us to sit in the cafe near the screen and watch their words being shared. It was a strange tea party; none of us knew whether to say hurrah, or to weep. But everyone wanted to stay.
The films were shown again on HMD 2011 on the BBC Big Screen Manchester.
Funding for ‘Kindness’ has been provided by the Clore Duffield Foundation through Sparks: The Clore Jewish Development Fund
You can watch the films at Bring Light Towards You
Read about the project at Kindness
View images at our on-line portfolio
Morris Feinmann Home 14 Nov 2008
Project blog diary extract:
The big glass room is full of light and the view is tree-ringed – there are high-backed chairs arranged in small gatherings – we are in the Basso Lounge, the foyer of Morris Feinmann Home and N is being asked what she’d like for lunch – she’s tiny and frail and confused – people hiss ‘She’s confused’ if you ask – as though it is a temporary forgetfulness – but this confusion is actually enormous and carries in the wake of it a vast swell of fear – we worked with N awhile ago but she can’t settle to the sessions – cant seem to hold onto the thoughts long enough – the attendant leading her to lunch is a saint of patience – each question asked many times – would you like lunch? – can you walk? – would you like a wheelchair today? – shall I walk with you? – every movement a co-operation between the two until they’re gone, the gentle murmuring between them fading into lunchtime clatter from the dining room.