Last week the Sayle Gallery on the Isle of Man opened a new exhibition which displays wartime works by German and Austrian internees, marking 70 years since the opening of the internment camps. The artists were thousands of men and women sent to the island during World War II. Some were Jewish refugees, arrested by the British as enemy aliens in May 1940. Others were Germans who had been captured by the British and who expected Hitler to liberate them imminently.
The artists used whatever they had to hand – wallpaper, newspapers, boxes, even a piano; and made anything from collages, to sculptures and paintings. Martin Bloch’s Miracle in the Interment Camp is probably the most renowned; it shows herrings being transformed into mermaids as five men sit at a table.
The exhibition illustrates that even though the freedom and creation of art was being impeded on the continent, even in the desperate conditions of British internment camps, art lived on and even thrived.
Forced Journeys runs until 23rd May 2010
Sayle Gallery, Villa Marina Colonnade, 1-3 Harris Promenade, Douglas IM1 2HN