Final programme for IBMT conference on Guernica on 7 March

Post date: 23/02/2015

Guernica: The destruction of a town and the creation of a masterpiece

Saturday, 7 March 2015, 11am-5pm, Manchester Conference Centre (Sackville Street, Manchester M1 3BB)


International Brigade Memorial Trust’s annual Len Crome Memorial Conference


A public lecture day in Manchester on 7 March will focus on the 1937 bombing of the historic Basque town of Gernika/Guernica by Hitler’s Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War, and why Picasso’s painting Guernica is such a powerful and enduring image of that event and the horrors of war in general.


Four speakers will discuss the historical and cultural significance of the bombing and its representation in art. They are, along with the title of their talks:

– Nicholas Rankin (broadcaster and author): Making History:  GL Steer and the Tree of Gernika

– Gijs Van Hensbergen (fellow of the LSE’s Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies): The Birth of Guernica

– Xabier Irujo (co-director of the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada): Gernika: The Market Day Massacre

– Manuel Moreno (Basque Children of 37 Association UK): The Basque Children and the Aid to Spain Movement

The conference will be chaired by Professor Paul Preston, the world’s foremost expert on the Spanish Civil War.


A textile banner of Picasso’s Guernica will be on display during the day. One of its creators, Maude Casey, will also give a talk about how it was stitched and embroidered by women artists and activists at workshops in Brighton, London, Manchester, Ahmedabad (India) and Chichester who said they wanted to use the power of art against fascism and war. They were drawn from groups such as Amnesty International, Brighton Anti-Fascists, Gatwick Detainee Visitors Group, Migrant English Project, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, University of Brighton and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.


Picasso painted Guernica in response to General Franco’s bombing campaign during the fascist offensive in northern Spain against the country’s elected government. War correspondent George Steer’s first-hand account of the atrocity for The Times in London was syndicated to newspapers in France and the US.


The conference is organised by the International Brigade Memorial Trust. The IBMT keeps alive the memory and spirit of over 2,500 men and women from the British Isles who joined the International Brigades to fight fascism and defend democracy in Spain between 1936-39. Some 130 were from the Manchester area, of whom 35 were killed in Spain, out of a total of 526 from Britain and Ireland who gave their lives. Many more people joined the Aid Spain movement in Britain, sending ambulances, money and food to those defending the Spanish Republic against Franco’s uprising.


This is the third year running that the conference has been held in Manchester. Last year’s gathering focused on artists, journalists and writers on the Spanish Civil War, and in 2013 the conference marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’.


The annual lecture is held in memory of Dr Len Crome, a GP from Blackburn who went to Spain in December 1936 and became the chief medical officer of the International Brigades.


For further information contact:


Dolores Long (Chair, International Brigade Memorial Trust):  0161 226 2013 (h) 07986 739558 (m)


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