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Our Journal

The Others Project

In the run-up to Holocaust Memorial Day next week, our students are hosting a new exhibition this week to celebrate diversity, respect and tolerance.

21st - 24th January 2013
Plymouth College of Art

25th January 2013
Peninsula Arts, Roland Levinsky Building

In March, 1st year students from the Extended Diploma in Art & Design travelled to Auschwitz to research and explore tolerance within different cultures. As a result of this visit the students are hosting a new exhibition called ‘The Others’ to celebrate diversity and remember those who have suffered through a lack of understanding.

A collection of handmade figures created by students with various community and special needs groups in the city will be on display at the College, before moving to Peninsula Arts’ Gallery at Plymouth University for a one day exhibition on 25th January.

The exhibition is part of an initiative to build respect for other cultures and diversity into the curriculum here at Plymouth College of Art.

“Our students are interested in the relationships different cultures have and how that relationship can change, leading to intolerance and the discrimination of others. This can be on a mass scale, such as the events of Rwanda, or through individual bullying,’ explains Course Leader, Tweeny Van Mierlo. ‘The Others’ project is aimed at highlighting the causes and effects of this behavior.”

The project, now in its third year, has had an incredible impact on students. “We’re surprised every year by the reaction from the students. There have been lots of mixed emotions” says Tweeny.

“It’s an intense 24 hour experience. It’s a full on day, with lots of walking and lots of information to take in” says Tweeny of the trip to Auschwitz. “By the end of the day we are cold, tired and exhausted but the experience puts things into perspective. It is so bitterly cold, but you realise that many people have stood in that field, for many days and with much less to keep them warm.”

Last week, Holocaust survivor, Solly Irving, came to the College to speak about his own harrowing experience as a young boy in Auschwitz during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Solly was only 10 or 11 when he was taken to a concentration camp in Auschwitz. He escaped near-certain death by lying about his age so he would be old enough to sign himself up for manual labour.

“Remember the mistakes of others to make a better person of ourselves” came the response of one student following Solly’s talk, “I know these things happened. I’ve heard about it many times before. Never have I been moved to tears. Truly touching and awe-inspiring” added another.

Tweeny hopes that by looking closely at extreme cases of prejudice and discrimination, students will consider the importance of respect, diversity and tolerance closer to home, adding:

“I’d like to think that we live in a completely tolerant society, but unfortunately we only have to look at our own doorstep to see that we don’t. There’s always room for better understanding”