Kaddish for My Family
paintings 25 July 19 August, 2001
See below for other images
The kaddish is the Jewish prayer for the dead. Wellington artist Helene Carroll says, "The title for this show comes from a recognition that neither of my parents immediate families would have had the mourners kaddish said for them."
Helenes family were Polish Jews, and almost all her uncles, aunts, grandparents and other relations died during World War II. "I grew up as the only child of parents and a doting grandfather who survived the ghettos and concentration camps of the Third Reich."
These people, their evening ceremonies to bless the bread, candles and wine, and the wedding of Helenes mother and father in the Tarnow ghetto in the midst of the war, form the subjects of these warm and colourful paintings.
The mood they evoke is fond and even funny, in spite of their solemn subject matter. "My mother shared small fragments of her life in the camps," says Helene, "and she embellished these stories with a good deal of humour."
One of the paintings, The Red Cross Parcel, refers to a package Helenes mother and a friend received in the Auschwitz concentration camp. "It contained the most inappropriate clothing ball dresses! The two young women dressed in these wonderful frocks and laughed until the tears ran down their emaciated faces.
"My paintings are a small way that I can bear witness to the events of the past and try to make some sense of the present and future."