Friends' negative reaction spurred on Roy

THE HOLOCAUST AND BEYOND: Artist Roy Petrie with his powerful Triptych - Fire, Music and Wound, which is on display at the Iota Unlimited Studios Gallery

THE unhelpful attitudes of friends helped spur on artist Roy Petrie to complete his powerful new work, dedicated to the Holocaust.

The exhibition 'Forgetfulness: the Holocaust and Beyond' is on display at the Iota Unlimited Studios until January 31.

"I came to the Holocaust through reading the works of Primo Levi and developed a deep interest in it and decided I wanted to say something about it," Roy told me.

"In the early days of the project, one of the things that propelled me on was the negative reaction of some of my friends.

"It was partially because they were holding on to stereotypical values, which seemed to be antisemitic that had been handed down to them."

The focal point of Roy's work is the Forgetfulness triptych, Fire, Music and Wound, and it is accompanied by a series of nine sequential paintings representing the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Roy said: "Fire is a symbol of the Jewish journey through the centuries, with blue being the symbolic colour of the Jewish people.

"The stepping stones represent where people have fallen off along the way and each one represents a different danger from which people had to flee.

"If you get to the top step, you reach the Nazi era. The red molten spit of racial hatred is an ever present, which can also catch you on the path.

"The black stones signify pogroms. At the top of the painting, shtetls are ablaze and coming crashing down. The middle of the painting has a landscape of human ash from which nothing will grow.

"Music has the violin as a symbol of Jewish culture. While the head is ablaze, the hands are not, because the culture is impervious to the flames.

"Wound depicts the aftermath - a wound which hasn't healed yet and is partially covered by cloud. It includes symbols of all the monuments of commemoration and a railway carriage.

"There are cracks in the monuments because one day they will fall down and so will the structure they are supporting.

"The last part says that we don't know where we are going. This is still raw and no amount of concrete or any apology is going to replace people."

Other paintings include Deception, showing the floor plan of a gas chamber and crematorium at Auschwitz; Justice; and Schindler's Gates.

The title for the triptych and whole exhibition came from a discussion with Holocaust survivor Moniek Garber, who saw it and told Roy that he felt there should be a fourth painting on forgetfulness.

Roy thought about it for a while, not seeing a way to do a further part to it, when it suddenly came to him that Moniek had given him the title for the piece and the rest of the work.

Roy is not interested in selling the paintings, but hopes that they won't gather dust.

He is keen for them to be seen by a wider audience and would be happy to go into schools and other educational establishments to talk about them.

In the meantime, he is grateful to Iota owners, husband and wife team Duncan Scott and Monica McCarey for giving him a perfect space to unveil the exhibition.

On Tuesday (6.30pm), there will be a discussion event at the gallery.

Details: 0141-338 6052 or visit

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