Exhibitions remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 65th anniversary of World War Two attacks

By Culture24 Staff | 06 August 2010
A photo of a burnt silver lunchbox

(Above) The remains of a lunchbox, belonging to a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl killed in the Hiroshima bombings 65 years ago, will form part of a display of previously unseen artefacts from the attacks in London

Exhibitions: After the Bomb Dropped: How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Suffered, Friends House, London, until August 12 2010; Hiroshima & Nagasaki A-Bomb Exhibition, Pop Up Space, Bradford, until August 17 2010; The Light – Portraits of the Hibakusha, Brunei Gallery, London, until October 8 2010; 65th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing, various venues, Manchester

Exactly 65 years after the first nuclear attack on Hiroshima, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s two-week exhibition at London’s Friends House offers an insightful reminder of the effects the apocalyptic assault continues to have on its victims.

Curated by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, the collection reveals a pocket watch stopped at the time of the detonation, clothes scorched by the impact, roof tiles melted by heat rays and personal possessions gutted by the explosion, transported from Japan and displayed in London for the first time.

Shoso Kawamoto, who was a 12-year-old schoolboy at the time of the attack, will give a personal testimony of life in the aftermath of the campaign, describing the rejection he suffered at the hands of his future wife’s family, who feared the cancers and deformities which have affected his relatives and the population devastated by the conflict.

A photo of an ancient stopwatch

A clock stopped at the time of the detonation

"Visiting this exhibition will give people a very rare chance to connect with one of the darkest moments of modern history, seeing artefacts from the very dawn of the nuclear age in which we still live,” says CND Chair Kate Hudson, launching a programme of events including talks, tours and a peace vigil and walk on Monday (Nagasaki Day).

"We are particularly honoured to have Shoso Kawamoto opening the exhibition and speaking at several events. It won't be many years until there are no survivors left and hearing their testimony – of lives turned upside down in an instant – is always a deeply moving experience."

At the city's Brunei Gallery, portraits of 65 survivors tell stories of the men and women still bearing the physical and mental scars of the attacks. Hosted by the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, their experiences are exposed with the hope of ensuring the horror is never repeated.

"With Britain considering spending in excess of £76 billion of taxpayers' money on a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system, we hope a visit to this exhibition will help people appreciate the immense human and financial costs represented by nuclear weapons."

At Bradford's Pop Up Space, a further CND exhibition sets the realities of the atomic destruction of the two cities set against current nuclear issues.

In Manchester, Lord Mayor Mark Hackett will lead a ceremony at the Peace Gardens in St Peter's Square on Monday, laying a wreath in memory of the 200,000 casualties accompanied by readings of poetry written by Japanese survivors of the hydrogen bomb.

The city has developed links with Hiroshima and Nagasaki since being declared a Nuclear Free City in 1980, and a photographic exhibition is set to follow at the People’s History Museum later this year.

"I am honoured to be leading the ceremony to remember the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, one of the saddest anniversaries of the 20th century," says Hackett.

"I hope the ceremony allows us all to reflect on the real cost of all conflicts and honour the ordinary men, women and children who have so needlessly died.

“Manchester is proud of its involvement with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them at this ceremony. I urge people to attend it."

Friends House, Euston Road, London. Open 10am-5.30pm. Visit the exhibition online for full event listings.

Pop Up Space, Centenary Square, Bradford. Open 10am-4pm (closed Mondays).

The ceremony in Manchester begins at 10.40am on Monday (August 9 2010) at St Peter’s Square.

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