During the latter part of 2013 I completed a personal project, meeting and drawing the portraits of Holocaust Survivors. It was an extraordinary privilege to learn from people now in their 80s and 90s, about their experiences as children and teenagers, how they survived the death camps and the Holocaust.
As an 18 year old at the time, it was a formative, and at times traumatic learning experience.
On January 27 2014, The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust exhibited my portraits at a commemorative event held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. The portraits were also part of an exhibition in Hackney, London called ‘Drawing Inspiration’.
The portraits were also exhibited at The Jewish Museum in London in February 2015
The Huffington Post (UK) kindly showed interest in this project and asked me to write a blog.
I am grateful to the survivors and their families, the wonderful staff at Jewish Care’s Shalvata and Holocaust Survivors Centre and the team at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
This photo makes me really happy. I am with my friends, the survivors (and their portraits).
From the very beginning of this personal project I advised the survivors that I would give them each their original portrait. I hope my portraits will be part of their legacy, possibly passing down each portrait through their family from generation to generation.
Four years on from completing this project, I remain in contact with a number of them. I still attend the art classes held at the Holocaust Survivor’s Centre in London.
I miss Harry Rossney and Moshe Galili, Avram Schaufeld who have since passed away.
The experience has taught me a great deal, not only about life and how precious it is but also about myself, realising how lucky I am to have a close family, friends and so much more.
Sadly in a few years time there won't be any survivors left to tell their stories. In the future I hope to be a 'living witness' to the Holocaust, re-telling the stories I have heard from the very people who survived.
I am so honoured and privileged to have met them, to call them my friends, something I will cherish for the rest of my life.