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Paul Benney (b. 1959)

Helen Aronson (b. 1927) 2021

RCIN 408755

Paul Benney approached his portrait of Helen with an emphasis on light and colour, taking inspiration from her joyful disposition and vitality in spite of the horrors she suffered as a child. She is depicted holding a small silver powder compact, given to her by her brother for her seventeenth birthday on 24 April 1944, when the family were incarcerated in the ghetto at Pabianice. They spent nearly three years there, before enduring a terrifying journey to the ghetto at Łódź, where Helen, her mother and her brother survived two more years surrounded by disease and deprivation.

After the harshest of winters with very little to eat and no warmth, the Łódź ghetto was liberated by Soviet troops on 19 January 1945. After the war Helen came to England with nothing except for the silver compact.