Holocaust Centre North - New Memorial Gestures Artistic Residency

Could you be the writer and translator this globally-important, Huddersfield-based organisation needs?
Mag North
March 1, 2024

Holocaust Centre North’s innovative Memorial Gestures artistic residency was launched in 2022 to give leading and emerging artists the opportunity to create brand new artwork inspired by its archives and in response to its themes and collections around Holocaust remembrance and history. Now, as of March 1 st 2024, the Centre is seeking a writer and a translator to join its four current artists as part of this unique project. They too are invited to respond to and translate the Centre’s memories, artefacts and accounts which cover themes of discrimination, displacement, trauma, migration, loss, memory and hope - through creative and artistic practices.

Holocaust Centre North – based at the University of Huddersfield – not only tells the global story of the Holocaust but does so through over 120 local stories and materials from survivors who subsequently created new lives in the North of England.

Now in its second year, Memorial Gestures is building on the current structure of artists’ residencies and is now seeking two further paid residencies - one for a writer-in-residence working in any form (such as poetry, prose, drama) and one for a translator-in-residence working across any two or more languages, with a preference for languages represented in its archives, of significance in the global context of the Holocaust or of relevance to contemporary life in the North of England. For example, the translator may work with German, French, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Yiddish, Italian, Ukrainian and other languages of particular relevance to the European history of the Holocaust – but they may also work in Urdu, Panjabi, Gujarati, or Arabic, community languages with a significant number of speakers in the North of England.

The Translator-in-residence is dedicated to the memory of Ernest Hecht, British publisher, producer, and philanthropist, described by The Bookseller as ‘one of a number of émigrés who changed the face of British publishing after the Second World War’. Born in 1929 in Czechoslovakia, Ernest Hecht arrived in Britain as a Kindertransport child in 1939. Both the writer-in-residence and the Ernest Hecht translator-in-residence are open to established and emerging writers and translators based in the UK.

The residencies will be primarily remote but will also offer the writer and translator opportunities to spend time in the Holocaust Centre North archive, accessing original material relating to the lives of survivors before and after their experience of persecution. The residents will have time to consider themes reflected in the archive, including intergenerational trauma, forced migration, persecution, loss, memory and building a new life in a new country. The writer-in-residence will be supported to produce a new literary work engaging with material and themes in the museum; the translator will be encouraged to produce work reflecting on the experience of living across multiple languages in the context of traumatic histories.

Memorial Gestures 2024 is already currently working with artists Maud Haya-Baviera, Irina Razumovskaya, Ariane Schick and Matt Smith - who work in a variety of different mediums including ceramics, video, installations, writing and sound. They took up their nine month artistic residencies in December 2023, and are currently fully immersing themselves both virtually and in person at Holocaust Centre North, with its collections, archives and through a series of meetings and talks with archivists, survivors and historians. The aim being they will each create a new piece of artwork as a direct response to the Centre’s archive collections.

Once appointed, the new writer and translator residencies will run in tandem with the seartists for the next six months – culminating in a final presentation and exhibition of all the new individual work created by all six residency holders at Holocaust Centre North in September.

Holocaust Centre North Director, Alessandro Bucci comments “Holocaust Centre North is a museum focused on telling the stories of survivors. These are stories of forced displacement, migration, persecution, and loss, but they are also the stories of those who rebuilt their lives in a new country, in new contexts and using a new language. Our archives contain a substantial number of poems, stories, memoirs, letters, and other textual artefacts from the personal collections of survivors and their families – much of it not written in English and almost none of it published in any form. By inviting writers and translators to engage creatively with these historic and significant documents, our residencies will offer creative practitioners a rare opportunity to explore the way survivors told their stories and reflected on their experiences through the written word. In doing so, we are hopeful and excited that the output of these innovative writing residencies – alongside our artistic ones - will contribute greatly towards making these stories accessible for future generations.”  

To Apply: interested applicants should submit an expression of interest (no more than two sides of A4), a writing sample (of up to 1500 words), a CV, and details of a reference to memorial.gestures@hud.ac.uk by March 29 at 5pm.

More details of the residency, including an Open Call are available on the Holocaust Centre North website.

Images: Arianne Schick exploring archival collection at Holocaust Centre North, courtesy of Holocaust Centre North.