Monday, 25 April 2011

Holocaust Exhibition

I received an e-mail that a play based on the Holocaust was taking place for one day only at Manchester Victoria Baths. It would be an interactive, walk around play and the director was looking for art objects based on the Holocaust to be in a small exhibition at the start of the play. The brief was to focus on the hope behind the tragedy, on the family units that stayed together.
Keeping this in mind I began to brainstorm ideas, I wanted the main focus to be on a family that stick together but are surrounded by tragedy. To represent the harshness of the conditions I thought that barbed wire would be appropriate and I decided that this should be in an orb so that it seems all encompassing around the family. The family would be made form clay initially, and then paper mached around it and the figures would all be blended together. This would hopefully have a dual effect in that the family are welded as one unit and hold together against the terror of the Holocaust but also the vague and slightly deformed look of the figures would hopefully show that they are ghosts, and keep in the back of the mind of the audiences that these are still victims but aren't defined by it.
As I only had just over a week to the deadline when I received the e-mail, I decided to send a sketch of my idea and why I want to do it to the organisers beforehand to save me wasting time if I am on the wrong track.
The idea was accepted so I went full steam ahead on with the creation. I used brown paper to cover the clay for the family and was originally going to paint this a charcoal grey with blue tints, however, on completion I thought that the brown paper was quite complete on it's own. I thought it looked quite antique and to add to this effect I shaded in pencil and then washed that out with water which made it looked a bit more battered.
For the base, I bought three birch wood circular plaques that I drilled holes around the edge of two for the barbed wire to be placed in. For the barbed wire I used a 0.8mm aluminium wire for the main part and then a thinner 0.2mm wire to wrap around for the sharp points.
The piece was accepted and I went to see the show at the Baths to see my piece and the show I did it for. It was really exciting to see my piece in an exhibition with other people's work, although one of the barbed wire strips had become wonky. The show was also very effective and emotional and I was very pleased to take a small part in it.   

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