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At the age of nine I saw for the first time photographs from the concentration camps. To me they looked like hills made from hair, spectacles, and shoes. Shocked, I returned to venture to look more. And I saw more photographs of hills: hills of human bodies, hills of people.My mother was incredulous and wouldn’t believe it. But her brother Kevin acknowledged what I was telling them, but added ‘they did plenty to deserve it’. I discovered this to be the general attitude of the Irish people. This happened in 1956. I realised then that private emotions and knowledge are mutually exclusive.

Later on, as I was was becoming an artist, this moment marked the cultural front line against which I would formulate my ideas and my art.