Capital honour for youngsters’ work

Head of art Penny Walmsley, centre, with year seven pupils, George, 11, and Sian, 11, at Bedford High School, Leigh, with their artwork
Head of art Penny Walmsley, centre, with year seven pupils, George, 11, and Sian, 11, at Bedford High School, Leigh, with their artwork

Pupils from a secondary school in the borough will have their thought-provoking artwork on display at national events in London to remember the Holocaust.

Bedford High School has had its piece Paper Chain Standing Together included in the commemorations in the capital city to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in January.

Organisers of the events which recall the millions of victims of the Nazis’ Final Solution as well as those killed in more recent genocides are marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by commissioning 75 examples of art based on a flame.

And Bedford’s moving piece, which does not paint a flickering flame but instead creates one from the gaps between the other objects on the canvas, impressed the judges enough to grant it a place in the exhibition.

Penny Walmsley, the art teaching and learning co-ordinator at the Leigh school, put together Bedford High’s entry.

The Manchester Road school got involved after Jean Hensey-Reynard, a former RE teacher who has been helping to produce the borough’s Holocaust

Memorial Day events for almost two decades, sent emails asking education establishments to get involved in the commemorations.

She said: “I was thrilled to learn that Bedford High School’s art canvas was chosen by the judges to be included in the national exhibition of 75 memorial flames.

“The judging panel found the absence at the centre of the artwork particularly moving.

“There are hands on it and the words ‘standing together’ all the way through, with the white flame created from the space in the middle.

“The main colour is the blue of the Israeli flag and that also symbolises peace. Repeating the text emphasises the importance of the Holocaust being remembered and it’s also a bit like a mantra or a prayer.

“It’s about helping each other in different situations to remember the people lost in the Holocaust.

“I am delighted with Bedford’s success as it means the borough will be represented among all the other participants.”

Miss Walmsley said: “I am very proud of these students for coming up with our design for the 75 Flames memorial.

“They have worked so well together to incorporate all their ideas into one final flame. It is fantastic for them to see their art work recognised and displayed publicly in London and for such an important event.”

The Bedford flame will go on display in London on Holocaust Memorial Day, which falls on January 27 each year. The date was chosen as that was when the Allies liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

As well as the victims of the Third Reich the day now also commemorates those who murdered in more recent acts of inhumanity in areas such as Bosnia and Rwanda.

There will also be memorial ceremonies in the borough on Friday January 24 at The Fire Within in The Galleries Shopping Centre in Wigan and at the Turnpike Centre in Leigh.

There will also be a drop-in event on Saturday January 24 in Wigan town centre for people to find out more about the Holocaust.