The creative process continues – March 2017

Latest news from Zuzana in Prague…

My great-grandchildren having their hand moulds taken for the glass hands on the Memorial. And a glimpse of the model door showing how the memorial will look.

Moje pravnoučata  při výrobě odlitků  jejich ručiček, které budou na Památníku rozloučení.

Zuzana Maresova, Winton child

Sculptor comes to UK

Jan Hunat, the glass sculptor came to Manchester to cast hands of Milena’s great granddaughter Eliska.
Honza Hunat sklar – priletel do Manchestru udelat otisk pravnucky Elisky.

The creative process begins – July 2016

Already the sculpture is taking shape and the hand moulds have been taken to work out how this might form part of the train window.

glass4

Hartlepool College team help to keep alive the memory of the parents who sent their children away.

Three members of staff from Hartlepool College of Further Education have been volunteering their talents to help keep alive the memory of one of Britain’s greatest humanitarians, Sir Nicholas Winton.

Brian Barnes, Mark Elliott and Gary Kester have for over a year been working with Holocaust survivor Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines who, in 1939 at the age of nine, was rescued from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on one of thenMr. Winton’s famous “Winton’  trains.

The College’s Creative Director, Gary Kester, accompanied the group to Lady Milena’s home in Preston, Lancs, and produced a short documentary of Milena’s story and her memories of Sir Nicholas.

The film has since been viewed thousands of times on YouTube and Facebook and has been promoted by the Imperial War Museum (who went as far as to showing it in London), Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, and a variety of Holocaust organisations in the UK, Paris and Israel, as well as by Barbara Winton, daughter of Sir Nicholas and now a major figure in the world of Holocaust education.

Moved by the film, Lady Milena contacted Gary to ask if he could help with some additional projects she had been working on. These included updating and redesigning a presentation used on talks by her about Sir Nicholas and also help with a website to promote a proposed sculpture funded by public donation to be  a memorial to the parents who never saw their children again.

Gary volunteered to undertake the presentation work, but for the website, which had some very challenging and complex aspects such as a multiple language provision and the ability to make donations, he approached the College’s Web & Social Media co-ordinator Brian Barnes. Brian is also a volunteer for Hartlepool Youth Support Services of Hartlepool Borough Council, heavily involved with the Holocaust Memorial Group, and he was happy to take on the project.

The Prague sculpture will be a copy of a life-sized vintage train door,  representing the more often than not final goodbyes of parents as they sent their children to safety on the trains Mr Winton organised. The windows will have handprints pressed into the glass; those of parents on the outside and those of children on the inside, a poignant representation of those last heartbreaking moments of togetherness.

To raise awareness and funding Lady Milena had merely been using a pencil sketch of the concept, as a maquette (a scale model) had been quoted at £4,000 by a company she had approached. At this stage College Engineering lecturer Mark Elliott was approached, and Mark also quickly volunteered his time. Starting with the sketch and doing some research on period European railway carriages, Mark brilliantly modelled the sculpture in CAD and arranged for it to be 3D printed at Teesside University. It was then passed to Gary, who painted and textured the model and rendered the hand prints in PVA with a fine paintbrush.

Milena was delighted with the final result and it has been used to raise awareness of the project. She also presented it to fellow survivors at a special gathering in London to honour the memory of Sir Nicholas, who passed away in 2015 aged 106. She invited the trio to attend to receive the thanks on behalf of the College from His Excellency Mr. L’ubomir Rehák, Slovakian Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Unfortunately only Mark was able to attend, travelling to the Slovakian Embassy, where he was introduced to survivors, Sir Nicholas’ daughter Barbara Winton and the Ambassador.

Thanks in no small part to the website created by Brian Barnes and Mark’s model, the sculpture is now receiving the funding and permissions required, and Mark has produced another maquette, this time in metal, wood and concrete of the final revisions to the design, which Milena took to Prague to give to the Director of the Prague Railway Station, Mr T Drmola – who has been invaluably helpful in assisting with the completion of the project.