In preparation for this project I listened carefully to Kurt’s testimony for references to materials and things that could embody a physical response to his words. The leather identity tag that Kurt’s father carefully made for him suggested the idea of making tags to hang on hooks, as in the corridor of a school. Hooks became nails hammered into wood and each nail took on significance, as representing an individual refugee child in Prague, the vast majority of whom were lost after the Kindertransport train pulled out in 1938.
The pupils of Nelson Mandela School listened hard, worked hard, collaborated and made a lot of noise, driving in literally thousands of nails and screws to realise an image we had distilled from Kurt’s quietly spoken words. His life hinged on that moment when he got on the train and spanning those two worlds of before and after was, and still is, the love of his mother who he repeatedly describes as an angel.
The children (and staff) engaged completely with the significance of what they were doing: that each nail and screw was part of an unspoken story. That it takes an effort to make things, that Art can convey emotion and that working together we can achieve what individuals can’t.