Francis Iles


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Excellence in Art since 1961


The 70,273 Project


The 70,273 Project is on display at Rochester Cathedral until 12th March


The 70273 Project has an ambitious aim – to blanket the world in Love.

The number that lies behind The Project is the number of babies, children, men and women who were killed between January 1940 and August 1941 because they were deemed to be ‘imperfect’ and ‘unworthy of life’. If two doctors put a red cross on an individual’s medical assessment form, it was the kiss of death, and they were killed by lethal injection, gassed, starved or shot.

The Aktion T4 Programme is the only death programme that bears Hitler’s signature, and it germinated from a letter that Hitler received from a farmer, asking for permission to kill his disabled son because he was ‘useless’. For Hitler it was an opportunity to dispense of individuals who were judged to be an economic burden, or unfit for Nazi society.  It also became the precursor of The Final Solution.


It is a little known, and particularly dark period of human history; the victims only received a memorial in 2014 in Berlin, at Tiergartenstrasse 4, the headquarters of the programme. Laying the foundation for the memorial in 2013, the German minister for cultural state affairs, Bernd Neumann said that the monument should set a sign "against hate, delusion and coldheartedness - and for tolerance, empathy and a respect for life."

And that is what The 70273 Project is all about.  It is a mass petition for love and humanity, being signed in stitches from people all over the world, in over 100 countries. 

American Jeanne Hewell-Chambers is The 70273 Project Founder; she woke up one morning with the idea that each and every one of these individuals should receive their own

memorial, stitched with love by someone they never knew, and in 2016 on ‘International Love Day’ as Jeanne calls the 14th of February, The Project was born.

The white fabric represents the sheet of paper, and the two red crosses, the doctors’ evaluation – it was such a simple way to end someone’s life with the stroke of a pen, but in The 70273 Project, this simple symbol takes on a new strength and symbolism. 

It becomes a mark of love, a celebration of being unique, and being perfectly imperfect.  Each block of fabric is as different as its maker, and the person they are commemorating

These individual blocks have been made by thousands of people, across the South East and beyond and have been sent by post, or collected at block making gatherings, and then sewn into quilts and pelmets at community stitch-ins and get-togethers, or worked on for weeks by individuals


who stepped forward to help. It has been a very personal, and emotional response to something huge; in its simplest form, it’s an individual giving their appreciation of another individual and using their time, energy and creativity to do so.


It is a colossal achievement and people power at its best.

The centrepiece statement of Rochester Cathedral’s display hangs from the organ loft, behind the altar, and is two huge banners bearing two crosses.  Each X being made up of individual three-dimensional crosses, made by community groups and schools across Kent.  Artist Wendy Daws BEM has been running workshops in the Cathedral with Kent Association for the Blind, Kent Autistic Trust, Dane Court School, Victory Academy, Milestone Academy, Fort Pitt Grammar

School and residents of Barton Court, as well as at her HQ at Mess Room Medway to create these monumental pieces. And from this huge, community participation, there are also individual creations in the shape of mini art quilts, or Middlings that can be found in the Lady Chapel.

The scale of The 70273 Project outgrew the cathedral, and it is also on display in the Guildhall Museum in Rochester.  Quilts made by Waldegrave School Twickenham, Connaught School Leytonstone and Girl Guiding and Brownies UK from Rainham, Chatham and Gillingham can be found on display in the Civic Room from Tuesdays to Friday in a joint exhibition with artwork commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day made by local schools.

If you have contributed to The 70273 Project, you can find an alphabetical list of names at the visitor’s desk in Rochester Cathedral that shows where your block/s will be located, and there are also books of photographs and some of the stories and personal histories that arose in the making of the Rochester Cathedral exhibit. 

January 2018 also saw displays in Durham Cathedral and in Jersey, and the plan for the Rochester Cathedral display when it comes down in March is for it to carry on spreading the love in different countries.  Eventually, the whole of The 70273 Project will come together … estimated to be over 1,000 quilts.  But The Project isn’t complete yet, with more sewing needed, so if you would like to get involved in commemorating the 70,273 then please visit for more details.

Francis Iles Galleries 103 High Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1LX  44 (0)1634 843222

Monday to Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm

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