In Living Memory

 

In Living Memory : is now available from www.blueormer.co.uk

(The information is taken from the exhibition space.)  

The German Occupation of the Channel Islands during WW2 continues to inspire generations of artists, poets and writers. In Living Memory is a commemoration and celebration for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of these islands. Contributors to the book include artists, authors, poets, historians and survivors, culminating in a publication coordinated by artist Olympia McEwan.

 Many of the artworks and all of the poetry has been specifically created for the book. This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to see these original works of art, in this beautiful gallery setting.

This exhibition is curated in conjunction with the Greenhouse Gallery to commemorate seventy-five years of freedom and to showcase the works of art and poetry from this inspired publication. The purpose of the book is to re-present the subject of the Occupation of the Channel Islands to a new audience and to shed further light on the complex world experienced by these brave few islanders.

 “I am not a specialist in this subject. However, my intention was to seek out those who are; to gain a better understanding. I am an artist and I have a passion for people and their stories. My interest lies in the social history of the occupation – the lived experience of this last generation of survivors. I also felt that this project was time-critical, as those with first-hand experience of the war years are becoming fewer in number.” Olympia McEwan

 As curator of the book, Olympia wanted to bring a fresh approach to the subject and to call upon those whose work would collectively illustrate this multifaceted moment in the history of the Channel Islands. The author Gilly Carr has worked tirelessly to uncover and present the stories of often forgotten islanders, whose lives were indelibly touched by trauma and loss. Annie Barrows shares her trepidation as an author and resolves to find a universal message in her book (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) – that of respect and of a deeper understanding in our shared humanity. Throughout their working practise, artists such as Jeni Snell and Chris Foss have been inspired to use the iconic German fortifications in their paintings, to illustrate their imposing nature on the beautiful cliffs and coastline of our islands but with an added personal twist. And poets such as Trudie Shannon and Nicholas Rowe have drawn on family memories passed through the generations, to create their insightful and moving poetry.

 “I can hardly believe it was seventy-five years ago that Guernsey was liberated from Nazi Occupation. It is of course vitally important that we keep memories alive of this momentous time in Guernsey’s history for future generations. In spite of terrible hardship and fear that they lived under, local people went out of their way to ensure that others were safe and fed. The occupation years of 1940 to 1945 were very dark and troubled years, but the people of Guernsey came together and helped each other. That shared experience has greatly influenced how we have lived our lives personally and shaped the island’s character in the years since.” Molly Bihet

 “There are still many islanders who remember May the 9th 1945, when the bells of the Town Church rang out after five years of silence. They remember singing ‘Sarnia Chérie’ to mark the arrival of the British liberating troops. A day that would from then on be known as Liberation Day.”  Dame Mary Perkins

 There are many people to whom I am indebted. I am grateful to all those who gave their time, knowledge, and skills to this book – starting with all my wonderful contributors, without whom this book would not exist; Ethel Brouard, Marion Dorey, Shirley Falla, Peter Gaudion, Margaret Le Conte, Mavis Lemon, Diana Nicole, Janet de Santos, Naomi Taylor, Paul Chambers, Mark Cook, Chris Foss, Rosanne Guille, Molly Harris, Sian Jones, Frances Lemmon, Pip Looijenga, Jeni Snell, Ryan Morley, Annie Barrows, Gilly Carr, Richard Fleming, Richard Guille, Nick Le Messurier, Nicholas Rowe, Trudie Shannon and Karen Simpson.

 I would also like to thank Steve Foote (Blue Ormer Publishing), Claire Allen (Director of Guernsey Literary Festival), Elmarie Brache (Coach House 

Gallery), Maggie Le Conte for liaising with Margaret Le Conte and Chris Foss, Lisa Burton for her assistance with the Museum Collection, Paul Chambers and Graham Jackson for their assistance with the high quality images we can enjoy in the book, to Molly Bihet for her warm welcome into her home and to her daughter Carol for assisting with the introduction to the book. Thank you also to Ryan Morley for helping to create the cover design, to Anna Smith and Debbie Torode for their awesome typing skills, to Jane Moss and Mary Carey for their eagle-eyed proofreading and thank you to Bianca Sarafian for her awesome editing advice. And finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to Dame Mary Perkins, for her support right from the beginning of the project and for her sponsorship of the printing of the book.

 Thank you also to Russ Fossey and Monika Drabot from the Guernsey Arts Commission for their enthusiasm for the book and kind offer to show the visual arts and some of the poetry in this beautiful Greenhouse Gallery exhibition. Finally my thanks to Art Foundation Guernsey for sponsoring the exhibition. 

Screaming

Jeni Snell’s art is based on the ongoing relationship she
has with the place in which she grew up. Exploring her
experience of living in a previously-occupied Channel
Island, she is interested in the influence that our early
environment has upon the formation of identity,
especially in the LGBTIQA context, which she occupies.

Attending a school built on top of a WW2 German
gun battery brought together the opposing dynamics
of ‘childhood innocence’ and ‘the architecture of war’
within the playground and this conflicting and troubling
relationship has been a consistently-developed theme
throughout her work.

Using found objects, Jeni pays homage to Guernsey’s
significant WW2 legacy. She contextualises the islanders’
make-do-and-mend creative resourcefulness whilst
under occupation. A stark contrast to our current
throwaway and materialistic global society malaise.

 Jeni Snell

Jeni Snell (born 1972 in Guernsey) graduated in 2007 from Central Saint 

Martins College of Art and Design with an MA (Fine Art) and in 1999, with a First Class BA (Hons) Fine Art in 1999 from the University of Sunderland. She lives and works in London. 

www.jenisnellart.co.uk


Coastal Defence

For centuries the population of Guernsey had to defend
their island by building Coastal Defences. To this day
examples remain of Martello towers, forts, bunkers, gun
emplacements and anti-tank beach defences.


Writing on the Wall

In this painting the artist has employed part of the graffiti
found on an interior wall of a German-built bunker.
The missing ‘D’ and ‘clear’ of ‘Danger keep clear’
was entirely unintentional, but resulted in the phrase
artwork reading ‘Anger keep’. This depicts the feelings
of a devastated community in a despoiled landscape,
which was originally painted on a tiny portion of Hitler’s
Atlantic Wall.

Boundary

This painting depicts barbed wire, which was the
boundary of choice by the occupying forces during the
war. Over forty percent of the island’s population was
evacuated to the mainland, and the twenty thousand
people who chose to remain were subjected to curfews
and restrictions enforced by these violent boundaries.

Molly Harris

Molly Harris was born in Guernsey in 1946 and in 1952 moved with her family to live in the Scottish Borders. From 1961 to 1964 she attended the Carlisle College of Art, Cumbria, where she studied graphic design and related subjects. In 1964, she enrolled at the Edinburgh College of Art to study mural painting, graduating in 1966 with a diploma in drawing and painting. She then taught in colleges in Manchester, before moving back to Guernsey in 1969. She stopped painting at this time and did not resume until 1982. The following year saw her first exhibition at the Coach-house Gallery. In 1986, she had an exhibition at the Paperwork’s Gallery in Vancouver Canada, and her work has also been shown at the Pike Gallery in St John’s Wood London.

Trudie Shannon

Trudie Shannon is an artist and poet, born and raised in Guernsey. She had her first collection of poetry published aged twenty-six. Her muse is her environment and the people she encounters within it, often writing as if she were in that person’s shoes. She has co-edited two collections of local poets work One Wing and Another Wing and performed her work both on and off the island, participating in Open Mic nights over many years and guesting on BBC Radio Guernsey a number of times.

Guernseypoets.blogspot.com

Molly Bihet

Storytelling has earned its place as the most important
tradition humans possess. The reason for this being that
every story contains a lesson to guide its audience.
Molly is our narrative; our best voice of the Occupation.
Her stories not only frame her experience of those dark
years; they also teach us to love, to forgive others, to be
just and to strive for better than we have.

Remembering, Part 1
Remembering, Part 2

 Paul Chambers

Paul studied fine art at Cheltenham College of Art in the late 80s and explored photojournalism with the Amos Trust and Christian Aid in Ghana, Tanzania and Palestine in the 00’s. A curious traveller and former doctor of trees; Paul found himself leading an Ecumenical community in Guernsey for ten years before moving on to working in the Criminal Justice System for another decade developing Restorative Practices. He now approaches his half century and has become a full-time photographer, exploring the next chapter of his life with all the creative opportunities it promises.

Spaceship passing Fort Saumarez

Chris was born less than a year after the end of WW2 and
these imposing structures made a lasting impression on him:

‘The German fortifications in Guernsey were almost
brand new when I was exploring them,’ he recalls. ‘I’d be
quite scared because there’d be warning signs and barbed
wire. They were crudely sealed and not too difficult to get into.’

These structures are a recurring theme in Chris’ work:

‘I’m fascinated by the proportions of the towers. They
remind me of huge Easter Island gods looking out to sea.
They’re like big toothless masks.’

This is an extract taken from Hardware : The Definitive SF
Works of Chris Foss by Chris Foss and Rian Hughes (Titan
Books, 2011), reproduced with permission.

 Chris Foss

Chris Foss first experimented with airbrushes in the early 60s and has become one of the most widely-recognised artists using this medium. He has created over a thousand book cover artworks for authors such as Isaac Asimov, E. E. Doc Smith, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. Van Vogt and Philip K. Dick and many others. He has also worked in film design on Dune, Superman, Alien, Flash Gordon, Stanley Kubrick’s A.I. and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy released in 2014. More recently he was at Ealing Studios, London, working with Black Mirror.

www.chrisfossart.com

Barefoot but we … keep smiling through

Mavis Lemon was born in Sark and lived through the
occupation years with her extended family. They had to
make do with what they had and she remembers being barefooted at times.

She and her sister were dressed in clothes made from
curtains. If Mavis wanted to go to the weekly dance, she’d have to borrow a pair of shoes from her aunt. Times were hard, but they drew strength from knowing that they were all in it together – and were always there for each other.


Our lives in 25 words

This is a portrait of Olympia’s step-father Edward ‘Ted’
Smith. Ted’s father, Edward, remained in Guernsey during the occupation, while his mother, Blanche, evacuated to Nottingham with Ted, his brother Tony and other family members.

In her artwork, Olympia used copies of Red Cross
letters that were sent between the couple to highlight the valuable service that the Red Cross administered during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands.

Red Cross letters were censored so that very little news
could be communicated, and they were restricted to
twenty-five words. Up to two letters could be sent or
received per year, and they were the only means of contact that individuals could have with their loved ones.

These letters are a precious reminder of difficult times
lived in adversity and the stoic nature of this special
generation.


Homecomer story, dedicated to Beda

Beda Thompson’s portrait represents the story of the
Homecomers of Alderney. Beda, her sister and their
mother and father, fled the island in 1940 along with all
but seven of Alderney’s residents.

She had mixed feelings about their Homecoming Day in
December 1945:

‘I was very happy to come home but sad to see the state of
the island. Some people saw it, turned around and never
came back.’

But she and her parents’ generation were determined
to stay, in order to rebuild their lives and their precious
island home.

Beda Thompson died before the portrait was completed,
so it is now dedicated to her.

 Olympia McEwan

Olympia is the curator of this book. Her vision was to use original material, most of which has never been shared or published before. As an artist living and working in Guernsey, she has exhibited in several shows, with her work in private collections around the world. Olympia continues to have a keen  interest in portraiture: ‘I am a storyteller in pigment and paint’. Stories such as her Amazing Women in 2018, in which she created 15 paintings of women making a difference in our island community. Trailblazer is her forthcoming show, celebrating further stories of women of Guernsey, who are making an impact in their various fields. 

www.olympiamcewan.com

Paradis

Pip was inspired by Nick’s poem . She
wanted to portray the house called Paradis in the Vale
where much was heard, but nothing was seen.
On the day Pip visited Paradis it was bathed in beautiful
sunlight which cast long shadows belying what may or
may not have happened within those walls. In her black
and white drawing of the house, the deep shadows add an
eerie edge to the scene. Hidden in the picture are subtle
hints to the alleged events, and the screams carried by the
quiet wind.

Pip Looijenga

Pip Looijenga is a local artist and illustrator. Pip studied art as a mature student at the Guernsey College of Further Education and in 2019 was awarded a Distinction on her Extended Diploma in Art & Design course. Pip’s work can be seen in various galleries on the island, including Iris & Dora, Framecraft at the Coach House Gallery and Sula Gallery. Pip was inspired to create her piece in response to Nicholas Rowe’s poem ‘Paradis’.

 Karen Simpson

Karen Simpson is a local science teacher and cub leader who enjoys both writing poems and children’s stories based around and about the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Her parents were children during the second world war, so she is very interested in learning about the history and heritage of the islands.

This digital print is taken from one of the original posters
displayed at the Occupation Museum in Guernsey. These
posters were authorised as an incentive planned by the
States of Guernsey in order to distil the panic on the
island at the time. Residents had to decide whether to
leave their home and move to the UK or to remain on the
island and face the prospect of German occupation.
The choice of words, however, are far from calm. The
use of capital letters and exclamation marks makes this
poster appear paradoxical, especially as some people only
had twenty-four hours to make their decision.
‘Untitled’ uses distorted text which gives a sense of
confusion, similar to the emotions that the islanders
would have felt reading the original poster at that time.

Siân Jones

Siân Jones (born 1986 in Guernsey), graduated from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2012 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. Jones’ practice explores questions of identity, gender and sexuality and how society’s reaction to these affect our mental health. The main aim of Jones’ work is to provide a platform for discussion and raise awareness by publicly exhibiting her work as street signs or paintings. 

www.sianjonesart.co.uk

The Last Alderney Cow

The oil painting, ‘The last Alderney Cow’, is the latest in a
long line of visual stories worked on by Frances Lemmon.

The Alderney breed of cattle was renowned for its rich
creamy milk which made excellent butter.

In the summer of 1940, after the majority of islanders had
evacuated, a party of men were sent from Guernsey to
retrieve the cattle. However, once in Guernsey, the cattle
were interbred with local breeds.

A small number of pure-bred Alderneys remained on
the island, but these were killed and eaten by starving
German troops in 1944. As a result, this unique breed
died out.

Frances comments: ‘The joy of using an animal rather
than a person as your central character is that you can
be more oblique with your meanings. There was a lot
of anguish in Alderney … the cow represents all those
people that were taken to the island and never left.’

 Frances Lemmon

Frances trained at London College of Printing, Sir John Cass school of drawing and Camberwell School of Art in the 1980’s before working as a scenic artist and faux finisher in London and New Zealand, returning to live in Guernsey in 2002.

www.franceslemmon.com

 Richard Fleming

Richard Fleming is an Ulster-born poet and short story writer resident in Guernsey. His work has been broadcast and widely published and will be familiar to listeners of BBC Radio Guernsey. He has two poetry collections currently in print: A Guernsey Double, in collaboration with UK poet, Peter Kenny and Stone Witness, recently published by Blue Ormer. 

www.redhandwriter.blogspot.com

Evelyn Guillemette’s wartime cookery book

Evelyn Marjorie Robilliard, known as Queenie, was born
in 1914. She was married to Louis Guillemette who was
Secretary to the States Controlling Committee.

This little recipe book was shown to me whilst I was
researching the food that Channel Islanders ate during
the occupation, and I was delighted!

Queenie began writing out recipes in this recipe book
in 1939, and she also stuck in a wonderful collection of
cuttings from The Star newspaper. Some of the recipes
show just how scarce food had become later in the
occupation. I felt that the frayed and faded little book
fitted perfectly with the title In Living Memory.

Louis and Queenie’s eldest child, José, was born at Castel
Hospital in 1942 and their life for the next three years
was full of worry. ‘My mother was a fantastic organiser
and cook, and nothing was impossible for her, ever!’ José
recalled. After her mother’s death in 2012, José inherited
Queenie’s cookery book. The book is still well used,
particularly the Christmas pudding and apple chutney
recipes.

 Rosanne Guille

Rosanne Guille grew up on the tiny Channel Island of Sark and went on to train in Natural History Illustration and ecological studies at Bournemouth and at the Royal College of Art. Her paintings have been shown widely in exhibitions including the Society of Wildlife Artists and the Royal Miniature Society and she has illustrated for publications such as Usborne books and BBC Wildlife magazine. She is a member of the Artists for Nature Foundation and was the organizer of their Jubilee project ‘Art for the Love of Sark’ in 2011/12. Rosie now lives and paints in Guernsey. 

www.coachhousegallery.gg/artists/guille-rosanne

Nicholas Rowe

Nicholas Rowe’s grandparents have been a major inspiration to him, especially for this project. His great-grandparents in Guernsey were deported to Germany for refusing to run their vinery for the Germans. His maternal grandmother, Miriam Mahy, is the author of There is an Occupation… Nicholas holds her as a great example of humanity despite her life experiences. He set himself a goal in late 2017 to become a writer in order to use his creativity, and to be able to move and inspire people. He wrote his first poem for over twenty years, set up his poetry blog, and now feels very honoured to be a part of In Living Memory. 

www.nickrowepoetry.rocks

Past Present Future

To commemorate seventy-five years since the liberation
of Guernsey, the States of Guernsey has commissioned
a permanent artwork which reflects the modern
celebrations focused upon the activities of the day, whilst
being respectful of the past.

These photographs are studies taken of the original
master whilst it was still being worked upon in the
studio before it was sent to England to be cast in bronze
using the lost wax process. Each image displays different
elements of the sculpture, which shows how textured
form was used as a key element in defining the different
materials conveyed within the bronze. The sculpture
depicts a Guernsey family – signifying how the end of the
occupation allowed families, torn apart by war, to return
to the island reunited and how Liberation Day has now
become a family celebration.

The male figure is wearing the uniform of the liberating
troops, Force 135. This symbolizes both the original
soldiers and also the re-enactors whose participation in
the cavalcade and other events brings the period back to
life.

The statue also contains other reminders of the immediate
period following liberation, such as the chocolate bar,
which represents those that were given out by the troops
to the children after many hard years of food shortages
and rationing.

The statue is designed to be interactive and stand at
ground level, with the public being encouraged to form
a physical link with the ‘past and present’ by holding the
outstretched hands. Being at ground level also means it
will become part of the crowds of people that throng the
streets of St Peter Port throughout the day.

It is hoped that it will add to the public’s understanding
of the legacy of the war years by reflecting the positive
and forward-thinking nature of the island since the end
of the war.

Mark Cook

Mark Cook has created artworks both commercially and professionally, spanning both 2D and 3D mediums. ‘Past, Present, Future’ is his latest piece of public art and will be unveiled as part of the official States of Guernsey’s 75th celebrations of the liberation. As a painter he has been commissioned to create various portraits. His work can be seen in private and public collections in both the UK and Guernsey. He has had three pieces of work exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London. 

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