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Memorial Flames created by students chosen by judges to feature at official ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day

Commemorative artworks by pupils across the UK selected for national exhibition marking 75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation

Memorial Flames created by school groups up and down the country have been selected by a distinguished panel of judges to feature as part of a national art exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The artworks – from schools including Bennett Memorial School, Tunbridge Wells; Bishop Martin C of E School, Liverpool; The Spires College, Torquay; Coleg Gwent, Wales; and Upholland Roby Mill Primary School, Skelmersdale – make up some of the 75 Memorial Flames chosen to feature in an exhibition set to be unveiled at the official UK Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, at which numerous VIPs are expected to be in attendance.

More than 300 groups from across the country registered to take part in the nationwide competition, launched by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) to encourage more people to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

On the judging panel were: illustrator and children’s author Nick Sharratt, famed for his work illustrating Jacqueline Wilson’s beloved novels; arts correspondent at The Observer Sarah Donaldson; art curator and broadcaster, Kathleen Soriano; Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Trustee and daughter of Naomi Blake, a sculptor and Holocaust survivor, Anita Peleg; and Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Olivia Marks-Woldman.

Speaking about the project, Nick Sharratt said:

“It’s more important than ever not to forget the history of the Holocaust, and this exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that. I’ve been very excited to see how many different interpretations of the brief there are, with each group using the central flame idea and making it their own. The number of different artistic techniques used has been very impressive and I can’t wait to see all the 75 Memorial Flames come together at the UK Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day.”

The primary school submissions were inspired by a range of sources. The Memorial Flame from King David Primary School in Manchester was inspired by the writing of Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel and the lyrics of their favourite popstar, Ed Sheeran. Their piece, Flames for the Future, is a sculpture created from wire and nylon, decorated with acrylic paint and collage. It incorporates passages from Wiesel’s book Night and Sheeran’s song I See Fire. The pupils’ teacher said using texts like these, as well as the poem Butterfly by Pavel Friedmann, is a ‘subtle but powerful’ way of teaching Key Stage 2 children about the Holocaust. 

Students with additional learning needs at Coleg Gwent Crosskeys Campus, in Wales, created a wooden 3D light-up design incorporating the Star of David. Their sculpture Thank You Kitty was inspired the diary of Anne Frank. It features powerful quotations from the diary which are burnt onto the base, above which an image of Anne’s face hangs from the star. The piece aims to tell the story of what happened, and uses the symbolism of hands around a flame to depict the hope and strength created by people from different backgrounds coming together to make sure the horrors of the Holocaust never happen again.

The students’ tutor, Mary Bradfield, said:

“The project has affected the group on a deep emotional level and they have shown great understanding and sympathy regardless of their own challenges in life. It has sparked a genuine interest in what happened during the Second World War and students have gone home and discussed it. Some are now happy to share stories about their family’s experiences during the war years. The students have shown maturity beyond their years and are keen to continue with this project. I am so proud of them all.”

Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Olivia Marks-Woldman, said:

“It is hugely encouraging to have received so many submissions to this project and from so many different types of groups. The project has truly been nationwide and at a time when we know identity-based hostility is increasing, it is heartening to see so many groups and communities come together and pay tribute to victims of the Holocaust in this way. Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for us all to learn from genocide, for a better future, and I’d urge everyone to get involved in activities for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 by visiting”

The 75 Memorial Flames project was launched with the creation of a sculpture by artist and survivor of the Holocaust, Maurice Blik, who was liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as a child. The project is part of a wider programme of events devised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust to enable people to take part in Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) and learn from the horrors of genocide.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) encourages remembrance in a world scarred by genocide. We promote and support Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) – the international day on 27 January to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Each year across the UK, thousands of people come together to learn more about the past and take action to create a safer future. Together we bear witness for those who endured genocide, and honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.

About the selected groups

Bennett Memorial Diocesan School is a Church of England school in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.  The artwork has been made by a mixed age range of students during their lunch break, some students attend once a week, some twice and some every day.

King David Primary School is one of the largest Jewish primary schools in the North West. It pride itself on educating the children about their Jewish heritage.

The Spires College – The founding group of this project were Sixth Formers, led by Holocaust Educational Trust ambassadors. The poem competition was attempted by our younger students.

Upholland Roby Mill is a very small village primary school with only 28 children. Pupils follow a broad curriculum and reflect upon past and current issues through Christian values.

The year 6 children from Bishop Martin C of E School made their entry after studying The Holocaust.

Crosskeys College, Bargoed students who contributed to the Memorial Flame aged 16 and over with additional learning needs. All students are in the Independent Living Skills department of the college.

About the 75 Memorial Flames judging panel

Dr Anita Peleg – Chair of the panel
Anita is a Trustee for HMDT, and has 18 years’ experience in education. In 2012 she was recognized by the Higher Education Academy and appointed a National Teaching Fellow. Anita has carried out significant research into the Holocaust and published a book about her mother, Naomi Blake, an artist and survivor of the Holocaust.

Sarah Donaldson
Sarah is arts editor of the Observer and deputy editor of the Observer New Review. She manages the Observer’s team of critics and commissions and edits features for the New Review.

Olivia Marks-Woldman
Olivia has been Chief Executive of HMDT since 2012 and has overseen the growth of Holocaust Memorial Day around the country to more than 10,000 local activities, and a hugely increased presence within British society.

Nick Sharratt
Nick has illustrated close to 250 children’s books. They range from board books for babies to novels for young teenagers. He has worked with authors including Julia Donaldson, Michael Rosen and Dame Jacqueline Wilson. He has also written around 40 of his own books. Nick was the official illustrator for World Book Day in 2006 and has a fellowship from Hereford College of Art.

Kathleen Soriano
Kathleen is an independent curator, art historian and broadcaster, currently Chair of the Liverpool Biennial. With over 30 years’ experience in the art world she has been Artistic Director of Royal Academy of Arts, and Director of Compton Verney Art Gallery. She has also worked with the National Portrait Gallery, Southbank Centre and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She has lectured and written extensively on the visual arts and her broadcast activities include Portrait/Landscape Artist of the Year for Sky Arts.

About Maurice Blik
As a small child Maurice was deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and many of his family were murdered during the Holocaust. Maurice survived the ordeal, and was liberated with his mother and sister in 1945; they came to the UK.

In 1996 Maurice was elected President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. His work has been widely exhibited, and he has created many largescale sculptures on commission which are placed in public spaces around the UK, US and Europe.

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