Somewhere to Stay: indoor exhibition at the University of St Andrews By Diana Forster, co-commissioned by the University of St Andrews' Visualising War and Peace project and the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund
In 1940, when she was 16 years old, artist Diana Forster's mother — Anna Sokulska Forster — was deported from her family home in eastern Poland (now Ukraine) and transported to a Soviet labour camp in Arkhangelsk. So began a long journey of survival and ongoing displacement that would see her travel thousands of miles, from country to country, in search of shelter and a new place to call home.
While Anna did not talk much about her experiences to her children, she shared enough to make her daughter Diana curious to find out more. And the few stories that she did share stayed with Diana, eventually inspiring her to create some artwork that would visualise this forced migration for others. As Diana explains in this podcast, the deportation of Polish people to Soviet Russia in the early 1940s is not a well-known episode of Second World War history; so one of her aims with her art has been to raise awareness of this mass displacement. In the process, she has become interested in war art itself, preferring beautiful aesthetics over a shock-and-horror approach. Drawing viewers in with delicate shapes and charming colours, she focuses on the everyday experiences of ordinary people impacted by conflict, allowing their stories to unfold gradually in a way that intrigues but does not repel the viewer.
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