Making a design for Poland has been the toughest challenge yet. There were 2 periods of migration from Poland to Preston; one from the 1890s consisted of Jews, while the WW2 period mostly consisted of Catholic ex-servicemen. I could make clothes for each, but it feels important to keep both together and therefore recognise that Polish Jews felt themselves to be Polish.
I researched the Polish flag and flower, red and white flag, red poppy. So I could have red poppies on a white background, or the reverse, or both.
But how to integrate the Jewish history? The symbol usually associated with Jews is the Star of David, but that has strong connections now to the Holocaust, and I don’t necessarily want to reference that. The symbol that Jews frequently use themselves is the 7 branched menorah, so that would feel more respectful.
I spent ages trying to integrate poppies and menorah. I was not happy with the results either artistically or conceptually, as it was breaking the rule that I had made for myself about using flowers.
In the middle of the night I remembered some illustration that I did in the 1990s for Moonwise, a multicultural lunar calendar, when I was pursuing the theme of trees in spiritual traditions. If I recalled correctly the design for the menorah is based on the almond flower. Next day I checked. I was right. Conceptual problem solved! Artistic one still to do.
v31 Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. v32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. v33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. v34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. v35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.