6F Text

Stories do not end; they shift and move on. The many narratives in these prints continue, some growing in importance other diminishing.

The Trevor Thomas story continues to reveal more about this surprising man and his capacity for engaging in the world around him. A visit to Bedford, his hometown for the last 25 years of his life, led us to a bookshop, whose owners had on Trevor’s death bought many of his books and paintings. Amongst them was a copy of a 1989, privately printed, short book called ‘Lost Encounters’. This chronicles his life in 1963 at 23 Fitzroy Road in London, as the downstairs neighbour of the poet Sylvia Plath. Thomas details his relationship with Mrs. Hughes, as he knew her, in the period leading up to her suicide and its aftermath. Written many years after the event, on publication Thomas was  threatened with legal action by Sylvia’s former husband, the poet, Ted Hughes.

The extent of the Nazi looting of art, and the level to which the repercussions continue to this day, was revealed with the Gurlitt hoard in 2012. Art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt was responsible for acquiring thousands of artworks for the Nazi regime, and for himself, in a variety of ways, some of them more dubious than others. His son Cornelius kept the hoard and occasionally sold pieces of work. This was discovered after a chance encounter between Cornelius Gurlitt and a border guard, who reported him to the German tax authorities for enquiries after finding a sizeable amount of cash on him. The ensuing investigations were labyrinthine and will continue for many years. Like the Hess family, who have fought through the courts for the return of their family’s artworks, descendants of those who had work bought by Gurlitt from their families under duress are challenging for their lawful return. The German government website www.lostart.de is exceptional in its thoroughness, as is Catherine Hickley’s book ‘The Munich Art Hoard’.

The war in Syria, which began in 2011, took another major turn at the end of 2019 as the regime took on the remaining areas not yet under its control. Whilst such figures can never be completely accurate, it is estimated there are 6.7 million Syrian refugees who have fled the country and 6.2 Syrians displaced within their own country. The UN refugee Agency worldwide figures for 2018 estimate that, globally, 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced.

Altogether, more than 67 %of all refugees worldwide came from just five countries:

Syrian Arab Republic (6.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.3 million), Myanmar (1.1 million) and

Somalia (0.9 million). Whilst our media often describes it otherwise, Britain is low on the list as a European destination for refugees applying for asylum, with Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Greece all receiving and accepting far greater numbers.

The climate emergency is felt as acutely in Leicester as elsewhere in the world, and groups, including school students have demonstrated throughout the city. Leicester City Council declared a ‘climate emergency’ in February 2019, along with many other councils across the UK. Since then, they have been thinking about what Leicester will need to change to become carbon neutral. A Climate Assembly in Leicester city centre on 18 January 2020 will enable residents to have a say in the proposals.