Friday, August 10, 2012

NEVER AGAIN - Hiroshima 6 August 1945/Friday 10 August 2012

As I wrote to dear friends Melissa and Marylinn this morning - this is difficult material. I would, however, like to share the work I've been immersed in recently. It is 67 years since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - events too terrible to fathom and too terrible not to revisit. . . To quote the plea of survivors - Never again

Yesterday I came across an excellent article that thoughtfully rephrases our common perspective. . . 
"Throughout the world, Hiroshima symbolizes the horror of its destruction more than the heroism that enabled its rebirth. But both the horror and the heroism convey messages of hope: the horror, because of the restraint it has imposed on governments, and the heroism, because of what Hiroshima has made of itself today.
There is still in all our minds, of course, the memory of the rubble-strewn surface of the earth as it was in mid-August 1945. I recall vividly the little springs of water bubbling out of the ground, all that remained of the homes that once stood there. But for me the stronger image now is the courage I encountered in the midst of despair, the willingness to think of a distant future that would be brighter and richer than the militarist past. It is this second memory that suggests the stronger theme as we enter the 21st century: the emergence of Hiroshima as an authoritative voice in a discourse exploring new conceptions of human possibilities in a world beyond the Cold War and its bristling military alliances.
What are to be the wellsprings of that discourse? First, that the citizens of Hiroshima need not be seen as merely victims or a static part of history. Second, that the nature of war itself is changing, and therefore the structure of the peace that avoids it must also change. Third, that new actors have joined states and alliances as principal players. And finally, that a new understanding of peace needs to draw on observation of trends toward war and proposals of ways to address them. . . "
           Continue reading this article here.


The University of Otago's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies is hosting two Hibukashas (pronounced He-BAK-sha) - survivors from Hiroshima. Michimasa Hirata and Shigeko Niimoto Sasamori will be in Dunedin today and tomorrow. Prof. Kevin Clements has created two commemorative events in their honour. For those of you who live in Dunedin, please support either or both of these gatherings? Here is a flier with details re; times and places. . . 

An exhibition has been arranged to accompany the lecture and comprises reproductions of nine artworks made by survivors, three pieces of mine and a sculptural work by Stephen Mulqueen. Stephen's long-term studio practice has included the transformation of bullet cases into peace poppies. For the purposes of this anniversary he has mounted a number of these in the shape of the symbol on the flag representing the Hiroshima prefecture. (I will post photographs of his work tomorrow - he'll be hanging it this morning.)

The paintings done by survivors are heart-breaking. . . 

Carrying Her Dead Child On Her Back (detail) - Reproduction of a painting by survivor Kazuno Mae

as are their words, written and spoken ---

I printed these texts onto acid-free paper (the same paper I've used in the past for my many boats) and created three new flotillas; the first incorporating text, the second plain black (in response to a survivor's mention of 'black rain') and a third flotilla of very tiny (+/- an inch and 1/3 in length), pure white boats. 

I will create a mandala out of the tiniest white boats and 'lay' them as a wreath beside this painting -

Corpses Piled Like Lumber - Reproduction of a painting by survivor, Kiyomi Kono

Deep Silence for Hiroshima (detail) - paper boat installation CB 2012 

Deep Silence (detail - in process)

Flag for Hiroshima prefecture

Alone. All One - Pencil & Oil on paper CB 2012

Love & peace, dear Friends



  1. claire, i espec like the Deep Silence piece...
    Hiroshima has always seemed to me the deepest tragedy; i have never truly fathomed the necessity nor the rationale for dropping the bomb.

  2. Your flotillas are beautiful, as always. God, you have an eye.

  3. So inspiring!
    I heard a survivor speak once when I was a teenager. He lifted his shirt to reveal the scarring too. I will never forget that.

  4. Very clever concepts and beautifully evoked in your art pieces Claire. Alone/All One is the one I like best as it speaks so strongly of survival, support and hope. xx