Art students at Bury College have been working on an exhibition to commemorate the Warth Mills Project, which focuses on the internment of thousands of innocent men at Warth Mills in Bury during World War II.

40 students from across Art and Design, Games Design and Interactive Media courses took part in the live brief and will be showcasing their work at Mill Gate Shopping Centre and The Met between 18 and 24 June, 2018, which is also Refugee Week. Artworks will help to tell the story of the little-known history of Warth Mills WWII internment camp, which locked away Italian and German men, many significant artists including Kurt Schwitters and Paul Hamann.

Jasmine Watson, 17, student and former Bury Church of England High School pupil, said: “I really enjoyed working on the live brief. It was a great experience to work on a hands-on project and learn something new about history in Bury.”

The Warth Mills Project will see the creation of a brand new digital archive and events programme, launching in Summer 2018. It will tell the story of Warth Mills and its internees, including Italians who had resided in Britain for decades and German Jews who had fled Nazi death camps. Internment ended with the sinking of the SS Arandora Star, when hundreds of men who had been brought from Bury drowned on the way to Canada on July 2, 1940 after the boat was torpedoed.

The project is led by Unity House, based at The Met in Bury, and successfully bid for £64,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Richard Shaw, from Unity House, said: “The internment of Italians and German Jewish refugees has never really been explored and few people know about the full history of Warth Mills. We are delighted that Bury College is helping to pay tribute to the hundreds of men who never made it home to their families.”

The Summer 2018 events programme includes:

  • June 18 – July 20, 2018Warth Mills, a pop up art showcase: Bury College art student showcase, Mill Gate Shopping Centre (free entry)
  • June 18 – September 21, 2018Warth Mills Internment Camp Project: official exhibitionThe Fusiliers Museum, Bury (free with entry to the Museum)
  • 23 June, 2018Music Behind Barbed Wire: a recital of work by interned artists, performed by the Émigré Ensemble, The International Anthony Burgess Foundation (tickets £4 – £7.50)
  • 15 July, 2018Creativity Against the Odds: Art and Internment During World War II, a talk by Monica Bohm-Duchen in association with Manchester Jewish Museum. Illustrated lecture to examine art produced in Warth Mills and other British internment camps – from Japanese-American camps in the USA to Nazi POW and concentration camps, Manchester Art Gallery (free entry)
  • 21 July, 2018Schwitters in Bury, a talk by Heather Ross. Kurt Schwitters and his journey to Warth Mills and his legacy, Bury Art Museum (free entry)
  • 26 July, 2018Book launch ‘The Girl in the Pink Raincoat’ by Alrene Hughes. Bury writer Alrene Hughes introduces her new novel, inspired by the story of Warth Mill, Radcliffe Library (free entry)
  • 11 August, 2018Warth Mills and the tragedy of the SS Arandora Star, a talk by Stefano Paolini. A discussion around the tragedy of the SS Arandora Star and those who died when the ship was torpedoed en route to Canada, The Fusiliers Museum, Bury (free entry)
  • September (date TBC): Memorial Stone Unveiling, Warth Road (free entry)

Find out more about the Warth Mills Project


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