an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O’Toole

“It’s the farmer in the field and the pilot he finds,
Hide him in his shed until all his wounds are healed.
Or the baker who makes extra bread, to give a starving man,
Or people who help people, who they will never see again.”

The poem, “The Ordinary People,” by Sharon Kerr, is one of dozens of items on display at the Bangor Carnegie Library, marking Holocaust Memorial Day 2023, commemorating the millions killed in the Holocaust and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The exhibition of the same name showcases artwork and stories from local schools, community groups and individuals, to educate viewers about the atrocities yet moments of hope.

A bulletin at the entrance to the gallery explains the theme, where “ordinary people were involved in all aspects of the Holocaust” and other genocides:

“Ordinary people were perpetrators, bystanders, rescuers, witnesses – and ordinary people were victims.

“In every genocide, those who were targeted had limited choices — but in every genocide, the perpetrators have choices, ordinary people have choices. Sometimes these choices were also limited, sometimes they had to make life-threatening decisions. And ordinary people were the ones who made brave decisions to save, hide or rise. But ordinary people also made decisions to ignore what was happening around them, to be spectators, to allow the genocide to continue.”

The exhibit items are a mix of handcrafted creations – such as watercolor and ink drawings, multimedia art of objects and printed quotes, and wood sculptures and architectural models – to prepared educational items – such as roll-up banners that succinctly describe each genocide and panel displays depicting survivors’ stories. The quality reflects the skills and talents of the members of the dozens of participation groups. Perhaps one of the more successful items was a sculpture by John McCausland for Decorum NI – depicting a Star of David constructed with barbed wire and secured with a skeleton key and the words “Freedom 1945”.

This blend of educational materials with community-based art evokes an intimacy that factsheets or commissioned art alone could lack. Some displays will provoke more reactions than others, but the totality of the collection forces you to contemplate the inhumanity of every genocide, wherever and whenever.

At the end of the exhibition there will be an opportunity to provide feedback, write a note to stick on a peace tree and take a booklet about Holocaust Memorial Day with you.

COMMENTS

The exhibition is part of a series of events organized by Ards and North Down Council. On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, a Holocaust survivor child will speak at an event at Bangor City Hall. On the other days of the week starting January 23, the other genocides will be commemorated with a series of online talks from survivors.

The groups participating in the exhibition are: Ballywater Seniors, East End Residents Association, Glastry College, Glen Community Church, Decorum NI, Holywood Men’s Shed, Portaferry Men’s Shed, Priory Integrated College, Scrabo Women’s Group, SERC, St Columbanus College and St Columba’s College.

PHOTOS

Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Nazi persecution. Holocaust genocide information banner. Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
“102373” watercolor illustration, by Trudi Smyth (Year 10, St Columba’s College). Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster”
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Mussa Uwitour information sheet. Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Mussa Uwitour information sheet. Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Memorial flame sculpture. Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Watercolor illustration of girl in red coat, by Phyllis Gilmore (Ballywalter Seniors). Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Sculpture “Bystander”. Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Poem “The Ordinary People”, by Sharon Kerr. Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
Table with the type of Holocaust victims and the number of deaths. Wooden sculpture with attached information sheets. Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
“Freedom 1945” sculpture, by John McCausland (Decorum NI). Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster
an exhibition on standing up to hate – Slugger O'Toole
“We are all ordinary people who can be extraordinary in our actions.” Exhibition ‘Ordinary people’. Holocaust Memorial Day 2023. Bangor Carnegie Library, Bangor, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster

Cross-published on Shared Future News.

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