Back to the Future – Irena Sendlerowa

By Institute for Conflict Research, Northern Ireland

This stained glass window reflects the story of Irena Sendlerowa, a Polish social worker who helped 2,000 children escape from the ghettos. She buried their names in a jar under an apple tree to aid their reunification with their families after the war.

You can read her life story here.

The Institute of Conflict Research in Northern Ireland worked with 20 people between the ages of 50 and 80 from three groups from across Northern Ireland who were former service personnel, nurses and others who experienced the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Each participant designed one of the 20 individual symbols shaped like a commemorative flame that told a part of Irene’s story that resonated with their own experiences;
Irena’s face
A battered suitcase carried by a little girl
Forget-me-not flowers
A jar
Birds of peace
and the national flower of Irene’s Poland- the corn poppy.

The image of the apple tree was particularly significant for a number of the participants who come from County Armagh, known as the “Orchard” county.

The eminent Irish stained glass artist David Esler worked with the group to bring their designs into a whole piece that would represent the HMDT flame. He leaded the pieces and designed a frame with a base on a mirrored star of David, with metal train tracks supporting the stand.

After HMD the piece will travel to venues throughout Northern Ireland to raise awareness of the Holocaust and the positive role that victims and survivors of conflict can play in peace building and conflict transformation.

The Institute for Conflict Research is a registered charity delivering research, training and community development programmes on issues of conflict transformation. The Back to the Future project is part of a programme for Victims and Survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict that is funded by the Victim and Survivor Service and the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

This artwork was commissioned by Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

Facilitators:
Dr Katy Radford, MBE – Institute for Conflict Research
Denise Hughes – Institute for Conflict Research
David Esler – Leadlines Studios

Participants:
Jim Gillies, Linda Gillies, Elaine Shields, George Breen, William Martin, Heather Martin, Billy Magee, Morris Browne, Phil Thomas, Lindsay Boal, Sharon Breen, David Campbell, Jackie Haslett, Evelyn Willis, David Warburton, Winston Duff, Charlotte Anne McAnirn, Mervyn Little, Errol McDowell, Norman Lockhart

Members of: 
Castlehill Foundation (Armagh and Tyrone)
Decorum (North Down and Ards)
Disabled Police Officers Association (Antrim)

 

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