Katherine Shock, Oxford Jewish Community IN Christ Church Cathedral in the Bishop Bell Chapel to the left of the nave, a fiercely strong and beautiful sculpture called Thornflower stands until June.

This has been made as a heartfelt gesture of hope and human solidarity in the face of pain and suffering by one of Britain's finest sculptors, Charlotte Mayer.

Tomorrow she will be coming to Oxford to tell the story of its creation.

Her hope is that this will be one of the many stops on its journey with a message of love and reconciliation bringing together people of all faiths.

She will tell how it developed from her own story of escape from Prague as a child in 1939 when the Germans invaded, and the death of a beloved Grandmother, Ruzena (Czech for Rose) in Treblinka after she had been first taken to Terezin (Theresienstadt).

Charlotte settled in England and found joy in sculpture and the warmth of new family life.

Recently she has been moved to examine the family tragedy in the light of so many others around the world, and create a response in the way most natural to her, in bronze and steel.

The sculpture itself had a long gestation period, even after her decision to make something, and she says that she took many paths that led her in the wrong direction.

Eventually she decided that she would visit Terezin with one of her twin daughters and was horrified by what she found there.

Oxford Mail:

  • Katherine Shock

However, it was here that she realised that, no matter how terrible the circumstances of life might be, courage, human solidarity and loving kindness are never destroyed.

Returning home she finally found something satisfying with thorns and flowers, diametrically opposite in form, yet joined to each other in such a way that they supported each other.

With five thorny uprights and three flowers she made a sculpture of eight units 1.5 metres tall, though able to be produced at double this size if need be.

One version of the sculpture now stands permanently at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in Hampshire, and the Oxford one has already been to Chichester, Salisbury and Southwark Cathedrals.

Who knows where it will journey next? Charlotte’s message is clear: “Like little flowers that creep through concrete pavements in our cities, love is subversive and never defeated. It will always win through somehow.”

The Oxford Council of Christians and Jews and Christ Church Cathedral have welcomed this chance to hear Charlotte and share her tale with those of other faiths as she would wish.

Her talk will be surrounded by Jewish music and song, composed by Alexander Massey, who will sing them with Emma Pooley in Christ Church’s peaceful setting.

The Council of Christians and Jews represent a group of people throughout the country who have a total commitment to a respect for each other’s religion and a belief that it is only by understand-ing more about others that one learns to respect their ways, even if they are not your own ways.

They feel that this is essential to make sure that future holocausts are unthinkable, because those that happen are so often based on lack of knowledge of ‘the other’, whoever that might be.

Members of the Oxford Council of Faiths, who have also been invited to Christ Church, further this belief with a wider group of religions who come together to support each other when needed.

Charlotte’s vision of greater understanding comes to a fertile if still very small seedbed.