“In life, I believe we all create, we all tell stories, we all share and cherish memories.
I believe we all derive meaning from and ascribe meaning to places and the landscape around us. We all have some sense of inheritance and legacy.
I believe everyone is a special kind of artist.
I believe we share primal creative responses to landscape and seascape. Increasingly I have produced work exploring these themes in which I have been the significant creative driver, the lead artist”.
From Richard White “Manifesto”
‘As a Second Generation Holocaust Survivor I am trying to make sense of my family’s past, exploring issues of identity, memory, loss, and displacement. I am interested in family histories, memorials, testimony and the silences we all carry and have been shaped by. The notion of inherited trauma is at the core of my work.
My practice has a forensic dimension, an emotional archaeology in which traces, fragments and memories are the starting points; work evolves intuitively. I explore and select the media most able to evoke the feelings I wish to communicate. Selecting and combining media forms is part of my creative process.
My work intends to give the viewer a transformative and immersive experience and aims to create a tension and energy within a contemplative space’.
A selection of photos from Richard and Lorna’s visit to the Lake District
Sara’s Last Steps
A slow walk exploring layers of erasure, separation and reunion.
A walk in witness to the young Holocaust survivors who were brought to the Lake District in 1945 and to those who welcomed them. A recognition of a tradition of welcome and acknowledging contemporary young refugees. A walk remembering those who did not survive, bringing to mind lives and cultures extinguished by oppression and bigotry. A slow act of resistance and awareness raising, towards a kinder future.
Contemporary resonances emerge from the story of two child Holocaust survivors, siblings who found each other as one was recuperating in the Lake District and the other in Sweden. Originally planned for 2020, the walk and subsequent gallery installation has evolved. In the time of the virus, stories of child refugees, separated families, forced migration and enforced exile are no less pressing and poignant. The project is now re-booted towards an online presentation through these webpages, a series of walks close to the lead artists’ home and elsewhere leading towards a presentation in Windermere in 2022.
Richard White and Lorna Brunstein traverse the site of a WW2 workers housing estate near Windermere. In 1945 part of the site was requisitioned for a group of Jewish child Holocaust refugees, ‘the Windermere Children’. The walk traces the final steps of a Jewish mother parted from her children at the Auschwitz selection point, transposed to the former Calgarth Estate. Sara’s Last Steps forms part of a cycle of work, Sanctuary and Exile, commissioned by the Lake District Holocaust Project.
On August 17 1938 the Nazi government in Berlin decreed that all Jewish women must include Sara in their first names and men the name Israel. As the Holocaust destroyed the lives of disabled people, gays, Roma and Jews and many others across Europe hundreds of thousands of Saras would have been forcibly transported to Nazi death camps.
2020 was the 75th anniversary of the arrival of a group of young Jewish refugees at the Calgarth Estate. Perec Zylberberg, Lorna Brunsten’s uncle, was one of those orphaned children. Whilst at Calgarth, Perec discovered that his younger sister, Esther, Lorna’s mother, had also survived and had been liberated from Bergen-Belsen to Sweden. No other member of their large extended family survived.
The project overlays the exact route from the selection point to the gas chambers at Auschwitz on to the now demolished Calgarth Estate near Windermere. This transposed route was that of Esther and Perec’s mother, Sara, Lorna’s grandmother; a journey that may have been forced upon the parents and loved ones of many of the young Holocaust survivors cared for near Windermere in the summer and autumn of 1945.
Sara’s Last Steps: The walk follows the transposed route from the selection point to the gas chambers at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, retaining scale, orientation and duration. Imagining and perhaps traversing the former Calgarth Estate involves walking round new buildings, avoiding fences, opening and closing gates that were not there seventy five years ago. Each obstacle presents an opportunity to consider layers of disruption, displacement, memory and erasure. The walk closes at a former Calgarth Estate picnic site, where thousands of years ago a life was remembered in a view of the waters of Windermere. The walk will find a way of acknowledging and respecting those who did not survive and those who lived, those who were left behind and those who were reunited.
This space has not been accessible during the time of the virus but the artists have identified six key nodes from the two layers folded in time and place. These six nodes are transposed to their local lockdown walking routes and may be transposed elsewhere. The intention continues to be to find new ways of sharing this story as part of a process generating contemporary resonances and responsibilities. In the coming months they will walk with others developing content clustering around these nodes, extending an invitation to participate online and on foot.
Artists statement: Negotiating present day interruptions and scattered relics of other times, the walk will takes place over the 120 minutes of real time between selection and death. As survivor memories fade the walk seeks a pathway through the entangled layers of experiences of the ‘Windermere Children’, and the residents of the wartime seaplane factory community on the shore of Lake Windermere who hosted them. A walk from selection point to transcendence, from home to picnic site, from unbearable separation to unimaginable reunions. A slow walk making the return on a site where memory, matter, nostalgia and trauma has been churned, buried and obscured. A participatory performative experience recalling past injustices and acts of empathy, generating questions and contemporary resonances.
The walk script:
A slow walk approx 1.5 miles over 2 hours between 6 stopping points. The last section is walked in silence.
Each point is chosen to resonate as follows with a theme and another place/moment
1. Separation: Where the selection point at Auschwitz overlays an erased hostel on the Calgarth Estate
2. Bittersweet Reunion: Where the route from selection point to gas chamber at Auschwitz overlaps a demolished post box/office(?) on the Calgarth Estate
3. Friendship/Solidarity: Where the route from selection point to gas chamber at Auschwitz overlaps a tree stump in the grounds of a school, the living tree once a gathering point for the young refugees hosted on the Calgarth Estate
4. Forced Migration: Where the route in the present follows a modern fence in order to get back to the transposed route across the erased lawns of Calgarth
5. Resistance/Dignity: Where the route from selection point to gas chamber at Auschwitz crosses an old track that still exists and existed long before the Calgarth Estate was built.
6. Custodians of Memory: Where the Auschwitz gas chambers of the transposed route overlap a bronze age burial mound, overlooking the lake, once a picnic site for the Windermere Children. Today the site is wooded, the view to the lake obscured
Walkers are encouraged to share thoughts and responses to curated content. As well as discussion walkers will be invited to respond through note taking, drawing, photography and social media. There will be moments of silent reflection, listening and making.
Media shared will be curated for presentation online and at the Lake District Holocaust Project in 2021 and continues into 2022