Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Understanding Auschwitz and the Holocaust

"The biblical word Shoah (which has been used to mean 'destruction' since the Middle Ages) became the standard Hebrew term for the murder of European Jewry as early as the early 1940s." 
(Yad Vashem - the World Holocaust Resource Centre)

1. "Auschwitz: Understanding the Past, 
Facing the Future" by Gordon Cockburn (b.1944)
[2018 touring exhibition at The Beacon Museum]
2. "Shoah". Oil on canvass by Gordon Cockburn
[2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
3. "Shoah - Destruction No 2" . 
Oil on board, by Gordon Cockburn
[2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
4. "Ladies of Auschwitz: The Survivors"
Oil on canvass board, by Gordon Cockburn

[2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
5. "Head Studies: From Sanity to Insanity"
Pastel on paper, by Gordon Cockburn

2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
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 (Photographs of the artwork taken with permission) 
"Auschwitz: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future"
This exhibition was a series of paintings, drawings and pastels about the WW2 by the Scottish artist Gordon Cockburn (b. 1944) at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, Cumbria in 2018. Some of the artwork by Gordon Cockburn in the exhibition can be seen in the above images. The artist's interpretation of the horrors of those who were incarcerated at Auschwitz during the Second World War help the present day generations to understand the past and face the future. 

For further information, click on 'Comments' below. 


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Gordon Cockburn was born at Maybole, Ayrshire on 5 April 1944 and is a largely self-taught artist. Nevertheless, in his younger days he sought advice from several well-known mentors including Bill Lockhart, L.S. Lowry and Marcel Marceau. In 1993 Gordon Cockburn was spending some time in Poland and made a visit to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Although Gordon Cockburn is not connected to any particular religion or denomination the experience of visiting Auschwitz made a deep emotional impact on him. After returning home to his studio Gordon Cockburn spent much of the next five years interpreting the horror and experiences of the men, women and children who were sent there by the Nazi regime during the war. He also felt that no monetary profit should be made from this extensive body of work which represented the suffering of several million men, women and children in the Holocaust.

Wednesday, 18 April, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Representing Auschwitz through painting

Gordon Cockburn's 'Auschwitz Work' is for exhibition purposes only. The first exhibition was opened at the Rozelle House Gallery, Ayr which was opened by the late Rabbi Ernest Levy, O.B.E. (1925 - 2009), a survivor of the Holocaust and seven concentration camps including Auschwitz. Since then, the exhibition has been shown at venues throughout Britain including one at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven in 2018 (see photograph No. 1). It is an exhibition which continues to provide an awareness and understanding of the past and to educate the wider public about extreme prejudice.

There are over 500 paintings, pastels and drawings in Gordon Cockburn's Auschwitz Work series, the vast majority of which have been kept as one collection for exhibition purposes. The small number of paintings which are no longer part of the collection have been special gifts of the artist - some to the family of Rabbi Ernest Levy and some to a group of Israeli musicians and outreach workers.

Wednesday, 18 April, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Understanding Auschwitz and the Holocaust

The following explanation accompanied Gordon Cockburn's exhibition to put it into the wider context of interpreting the Holocaust and what happened at Auschwitz:

"The Holocaust was the persecution and genocide of six million Jews by the Nazis.

Before the Holocaust there were around nine million Jews living in Europe. Those living in Eastern European countries wore traditional Jewish clothing, spoke Yiddish and lived in small villages. Jews in Western Europe often lived in cities and integrated more with the culture of the country they lived in.

Anti-Semitism - hatred of Jews - existed before Nazi Germany and the Nazis used existing prejudices and stereotypes to scapegoat the Jewish people. They blamed them for Germany's failure in the First World War and the following economic depression in the 1930s.

One stereotype that the Nazis used is that Jews were rich and powerful. While, as in any walk of life, some Jews were rich, many were also poor. In Europe before the Holocaust, they worked in many diverse jobs: among other occupations they worked as doctors, farmers, teachers and small-business owners. These stereotypes about Jews existed in many countries before Nazism and persist today.

The Nazis believed in an ideal race which they called 'Aryan'. 'Aryans' were white, blond, and tall with blue eyes. Nazis considered 'Aryan' people to be superior to other races, particularly Jews. They killed people who they considered to be inferior so that they could breed 'Aryans'. In concentration camps such as Auschwitz Nazis imprisoned and killed Jews, Poles, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, disabled people, Roma and Sinti communities ('gypsies'), gay people, black people, Czechs, Belarussians, Germans, French people, Russians, Yugoslavs (Slovenes, Serbs, Croats) and Ukranians on the grounds of being inferior. Members of other nations were forcibly removed to Auschwitz in smaller numbers including Albanians, Belgians, Danes, Greeks, Dutch people, Hungarians, Italians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Luxembourgers, Norwegians, Romanians, Slovaks, Spanish people, Swiss people, Argentinians, Bulgarians, Estonians and Chinese people. The Nazis also oppressed people who opposed them politically such as Communists, Socialists and Jehovah's Witnesses."

Wednesday, 18 April, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


"Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.”

Eli Wiesel
Nobel Peace Prize lecture
Oslo City Hall, Norway
(10 December 1986)


The artist Gordon Cockburn and the Cockburn Gallery, Maybole, Ayrshire

The Beacon Museum, West Strand, Whitehaven, Cumbria

Yad Vashem, World Holocaust and Remembrance Centre, Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 18 April, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further information

For further information about Gordon Cockburn and the Cockburn Gallery click on the following link:
Cockburn Gallery

For further information about Yad Vashem and the Holocaust click on the following link:
Yad Vashem
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Wednesday, 18 April, 2018  

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