Remembering Hiroshima And Nagasaki At The People's Palace

By Mark McLaughlin | 05 February 2003

Left: The Hiroshima mushroom cloud. Picture courtesy: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Mark McLaughlin visited the People's Palace to take in this shocking, but valuable exhibition.

Glasgow Green is this month the unlikely venue for a timely reminder of the dangers of weapons of mass-destruction.

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki is on at the picturesque People's Palace until May 5.

This poster exhibition features images from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and tells the story of the U.S. nuclear bombing of two cities during World War II, their aftermath and eventual recovery.

Right: A contemporary drawing made by a survivor. Picture courtesy: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Curator of the People's Palace, Fiona Hays, said: "The Convener of the Nuclear Free Zones sub-committee of Glasgow City Council, David Stevenson, was very keen to bring the exhibition to the city."

"It is a very powerful and moving presentation about what happened to these cities. It really does bring home the effects of atomic weapons, and also adds a historical dimension to the events of today. After the exhibition finishes, the prints will be circulated around schools and libraries in the area, bringing awareness to as many people as possible."

This exhibition is by no means pleasant; it shows the full horror of the Japanese bombings and is not for the squeamish.

Two giant prints of the immediate aftermath of the bombs cover an entire wall, showing several kilometres worth of buildings completely levelled.

Left: Shadow etched in stone: 200 meters from the hypercentre of the blast the pavement was bleached white - apart from the place where someone once sat. Picture courstesy: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

But once the shock of such absolute destruction has sunk in, the real horror begins. Pictures of survivors with horrendous injuries, eyes burned out, skin melted off and, in extreme cases, burnt crisp and shed down to the bone.

Even those that missed the full brunt of the blast suffered a terrible fate as radiation took its toll.

In the short term it resulted in terrible illnesses, subcutaneous bleeding and painful death - and in the long term caused leukaemia, cancer, in-vitro deformities and mental illness.

Right: The A-Bomb Dome: formerly the Hiroshima Commercial Exhibition Hall, the city decided to leave the devastated shell as a reminder and memorial. Picture courtesy: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Three video features accompany the exhibition. The first, A Mother's Prayer, features footage filmed days after the blast.

On A Paper Crane is a Japanese cartoon devised to warn children of the effects of atomic bombs.

The final feature, The Kaki Tree, tells the extraordinary story of how a sapling from the only Kaki (Persimmon) Tree to survive Nagasaki came to be planted in Glasgow's Botanic Gardens. The tree is a symbol of regrowth after such devastation.

As much as this exhibition is about destruction and death - it is also about perseverance and rejuvenation against all odds, making Glasgow's luscious Green not such an unlikely venue after all.

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