Anne Frank painting commemorates her 90th birthday

This week, Anne Frank would have celebrated her 90th birthday. To commemorate the event, a new painting showing what Anne might have looked like if she was still alive was commissioned and sold at auction in London, with proceeds going to the Anne Frank Trust.

“Reflection” by Scottish artist Fiona Graham-Mackay utilises computer ageing technology to depict the diarist in her bedroom looking towards a mirror reflection of her much older self. In the painting, Frank is framed by cut-out magazine pictures that she stuck above her bed, including a young Princess Elizabeth who represented hope.

Anne’s diary, which she composed as a school girl in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, is regarded as one of the most significant documents to arise from the Holocaust.

I feel bad for lying in a warm bed, while my dearest friends are out there somewhere, thrown or fallen to the ground. And that only because they are Jews,” she wrote on 19 November 1942.

After Hitler’s Germany took the Netherlands on 15 May 1940, prejudicial laws and sanctions were introduced against the Jewish community. For the following two years Anne’s family and several others hid in a trusted friend’s annex, until they were eventually arrested and sent to a concentration camp.

Posthumously published as Diary of a Young Girl, her writing chronicles the hopes and dreams of an ambitious teenager whilst accurately recording their time in hiding.

To commemorate these hopes the Anne Frank Trust UK sold the new painting at their Gala Auction on Wednesday, with the online-bidding reaching $5,100 before the event. Tim Robertson, chief executive of the Trust, said “our only brief was for something that relates who Anne was to how she might be today.”

Scottish artist Graham-Mackay took inspiration from her poignant visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, becoming captivated by the everyday objects Anne and her family had used.

It really moved me to think that their hands had been on that basin, they had all looked at themselves in that mirror. Gradually an idea came together,” Graham-Mackay explained.

As a young girl growing up during the civil-war in Nigeria, Anne Frank’s diary was one of only four books Graham-Mackay had owned. “I was trapped in my jungle literally with a few adults and what Anne wrote in an odd way drew me closer to her as a friend. When I returned to Scotland from Nigeria, she came with me and has stayed ever since.”

Frank’s step-sister, Dr Eva Schloss, who along with her mother managed to escape the Holocaust, said the painting was “a very lovely idea.”

Speaking to BBC Scotland’s The Nine about a new exhibition on Frank’s life, Dr Schloss remarked that “Anne has become immortal”. Similar to Graham-Mackay’s painting, the exhibition at St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow also displays a life-size replica of Anne’s bedroom in the secret annex.

Money raised from the sale of the painting will fund the Anne Frank Trust’s school programme to teach children about the dangers of prejudice. Reflecting in an interview on the message of her painting, Graham-Mackay recently emphasised the importance of acceptance, “because a little kindness goes a long way and I think our society really has forgotten that.”


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