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Faces in the Void: Czech Survivors of the Holocaust

An exhibition of poetry and photography by Jane Liddell-King & Marion Davies


Faces in the Void is a joint project by poet, Jane Liddell-King and photographer, Marion Davies. It explores the impact of politics and place on past and present Jewish life from the most tragic to the redemptive.

During the Communist era following the Holocaust 1,564 Czech Torah Scrolls were rescued from Prague, brought to London, restored where possible and loaned around the world.

The Scroll on loan to Jane’s synagogue initially led us to the small town of Pardubice near Prague. There we met survivors and their families who shared their unique stories.
From this beginning we have pursued individual and intersecting stories. The result is a project revealing the renewal and variety of Jewish life within the Czech Republic in the wake of the Shoah and the Communist regime.

Developing the project in England, we collected further stories from Czech survivors such as the 108 year old pianist Alice Herz-Sommer and Vera Gissing. Vera was one of 700 Czech Jewish children rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton to whom she introduced us.

The resulting images and poems bring to life intersecting testimonies so that the Czech Jewish community becomes a marker for other minority communities. The audience comes face to face with both the reality of prejudice that leads to genocide and the possibility of recovery and regeneration.

Exhibition Details

The exhibition consists of a maximum of 9 poems and 50 photographs.
All have been framed in open (unglazed) wooden box frames.

Exhibition History

Michaelhouse, Cambridge, Holocaust Memorial Day, January – February 2008

Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, May 2008

Coventry City Council, The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery, Holocaust Memorial Day, January 2009
University of Exeter and University College Falmouth – incorporating Dartington College of Arts, Feb 2009
Edgware & District Reform Synagogue, March 2009

Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, Jan 2012



Wiener Library newsletter, feature, Winter 2009


A very successful illustrated presentation of the exhibition, developing its themes, is also available.


Faces in the Void is a stunning exhibition. 
Feedback for the exhibition received has been overwhelmingly positive, and included many comments on the boldness of the artists’ venture to transform the Michaelhouse chancel by overlaying images from the Old New Synagogue, and the excellent way in which this has been achieved.

The Revd Dr Andreas Loewe, Chaplain.

On behalf of the Hampstead Garden Suburb community and especially the 240 people who attended this year’s Yom Hashoah programme on Thursday 1st May 2008, we would like to sincerely thank you for such a meaningful and valuable addition to our service.
Marion, your introduction followed by the wonderful and evocative photographs and explanation were profoundly moving.
Jane’s poems were incredibly well presented and conveyed such a hauntingly deep beauty.
Together you truly made this a memorable and incredibly moving event.

Rabbi Livingstone, Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue

Faces in the Void offers a considered depth which challenges the temptation to simplify or idealise the Holocaust, or keep it in the past.   It shows that the ripples are still spreading from the events – it cannot be consigned to history, and those ripples create intriguing glimpse of how more recent genocides might leave unexpected traces.
Faces in the Void is a fascinating exercise in creativity.  The poems and photographs are documentary – perhaps obsessively so – every detail reflecting the testimony and historical fact.   The usual artist's techniques of invention, metaphor, exaggeration are entirely absent, yet the exhibition is clearly a creative experience, more than a documentary one.  Both artists use their craft to create clarity and veracity, and viewer's experience is very unusual – bearing witness, often to new facts, but represented using beauty, refinement and finely crafted poetry and photography.
Our installation also had a sound track of piano music.  This helped establish aesthetics of a calm space, a place which assumed an adult intellectual engagement, the investment of time in return for profound rewards, and finally at the end of the exhibition the knowledge that the music was played by one of the exhibition's subjects. 

Jack Shuttleworth, Project Officer, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry

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