Monday, 5 December 2011

Journal pages

On Saturday evening I started off painting some journal pages red, black,and white, with a few flecks of gold ink. I was intending to use some templates to put some dancing figures on to it, but then the colours reminded me of fire and blood,and somehow it changed to a spread about concentration camps. I haven't named them, I think everybody knows those awful names, but I have used pictures of the gates which bore the same message at every camp - *Arbeit macht frei*. *Work sets you free*. This was a terrible, cynical motto, meaning that the people should work themselves to death, when they would be free. The average *stay* in a camp was about 6 months, for those who were young and strong, although some survived much longer in spite of inhuman conditions and hardships. I don't want to go into more details. During my time working at the old people's home here, I got to know many survivors. Some had survived over several years, often being moved from one camp to another. One of the ladies said; *My name is Chaya, and that means life in Hebrew, so I told myself every day that I would survive*. She died at over 90, and one can only admire such an indomitable spirit.

In my journal spread I have used many photos of children and others who died.Many children, women and older men were killed straightaway, so as not to waste precious time and rations on them. The images are mostly ripped and unclear, which I have done to show that their lives, too, were ripped and destroyed. The picture of the girl on the left hand page shows Ann Frank, who died in Bergen Belsen shortly before the war ended. On the right side I have written a poem from Nelly Sachs, which I am printing completely here, as I know my writing is mostly hard to read.

*O the night of the weeping children!
O the night of the children branded for death!
Sleep may not enter here.
Terrible nursemaids/ Have usurped the place of mothers,
Have tautened their tendons with the false death,
Sow it on to the walls and into the beams—
Everywhere it is hatched in the nests of horror.
Instead of mother's milk, panic suckles those little ones.
Yesterday Mother still drew
Sleep toward them like a white moon,
There was the doll with cheeks derouged by kisses
In one arm,
The stuffed pet, already
Brought to life by love,
In the other—
Now blows the wind of dying,
Blows the shifts over the hair/ That no one will comb again.*

The little spots of gold ink in the pages represent for me light and hope, especially the hope that things like this will never happen again.

Have a good day you all, take care, and thanks for visiting!


  1. Hi Val, your pages today are different to usual, you have chosen a very difficult theme, but you have shown it really well. Hugs, Sarah

  2. Valerie I just read all this with tears in my eyes and your pages are very evocative of a terrible time in history which I also hope will never happen again.
    Hugs, Fliss xx

  3. How privileged you are to have met and worked with these brave tortured souls. I have no idea how survivors carried on with their lives, married, felt love, raised children and somehow, despite everything, showed the world hope and love still existed and rose above all else in the human heart. Because I did some studying on the subject at one time, I have often wondered how I might have dealt with being interned. I'm proud of you for sharing your pages .. we still tend to 'shy away' from these atrocities. It is important to be remembered and talked about lest is ever happen again. Anyone who thinks these horrors could not happen again is indeed niave. Thank you for your bravery to discuss and share your work. It has always been my opinion Schindeler's list should be mandatory in every school cirriculum in the world. hugs, Donna

  4. WOW! You're out done yourself with these beautiful journal pages!

  5. Such evocative pages Valerie, puts our troubles into perspective, doesn't it. Enjoy you day. Suze xx

  6. Powerful and sad. History shows that we are capable of this horror time and time again The fate of the Native American, Slavery, The Holocaust and even more recent history. It is frightening to realise what we are more than capable of doing and forgetting.

    It must have been hard making these pages but they are wonderful and honest. XOXO Zoe

  7. serious stuff here. I must say art is an amazing way to express such deep emotion. Your pages are brilliant and have given me much to think about today. thank you!

  8. wow, expressive pages! you've done an amazing job capturing emotion here...
    nice job valerie!
    I love your new blog background, too - xo

  9. Your pages today are very thought provoking, I have just recently re-read Anne Franks story and the poem you showed just pulls at the heart strings, to think of all the suffering there has been and still is in the world today.
    Yvonne x

  10. Very powerful and moving images and poetry today Val.
    The colours suit the topic perfectly.
    Hugs xx

  11. I scrolled down and looked at the art before I read the post (I'm one of those people). I felt such horror and strength at the same time - after reading your post I understood why - horror at the lives destroyed and the strength of those who survived and went on to live their lives.

  12. The red brings out the emotion in your journal pages.

  13. Hi Valerie, Your pages are recalling an apalling time in this world's history. For you, meeting surviviors must have been a privilege, such brave souls. I visited Auschwitz, Birkenau a couple of years ago and went to Anne Frank's house just last year both salutory experiences. As difficult as remembering the atrocities is, we must. Your pages are a work of art and a stark, uncomfortable reminder. The poem fits very well into your pages.
    I hope you are well and not facing any more long visits with the Dentist, Gay xxx

  14. Very poignant Valerie, your pages are a tribute to those who suffered terribly, and I agree we should not forget. These things can happen again, I worry for my country that the "class war" we see now, could turn to something equally as ugly. Thank you for sharing this with us, you did it beautifully.

  15. Sad, poignant, horrible, such a terrible part of our history which you've dealt with and portrayed so succinctly. A truly artistic tribute!! xx

  16. Touching and sad and to think that a human being (I say that lightly) can do that to another! This is a beautiful tribute.

  17. very powerful pages and poem.

  18. Very poignant. It was a sad terrible time but one that shouldn't be forgotten. Your pages bring this to light in a very evocative way. x

  19. Very poignant. It was a sad terrible time but one that shouldn't be forgotten. Your pages bring this to light in a very evocative way. x

  20. Very poignant. It was a sad terrible time but one that shouldn't be forgotten. Your pages bring this to light in a very evocative way. x

  21. Very poignant. It was a sad terrible time but one that shouldn't be forgotten. Your pages bring this to light in a very evocative way. x

  22. Hi Valerie,
    This is such a touching project--and to represent The Holocaust in this way truly is to honor the people who endured such hardships beyond our comprehension...I can't help but think that Chaya was such a special person with such stories to tell, but also, she must have had such a strong spirit and a joy about life...Thank you for sharing this with is so moving. xo Cindy

  23. WOW, what a powerful post, Such a tragedy, least we never forget!

  24. These are such moving pages. I appreciate the gold ink possibilities of hope and light and admire you for sharing. May we never forget.


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