The personal touch – Corina Levison

Corina Levison (née Touw) was a newly married 19-year-old when the Japanese arrived at her home in the town of Medan , northern Sumatra, in March 1942. Along with her husband, mother, and 11-year-old sister, she was interned for the remainder of the war. Separated from her husband (a British civilian), Levison frequently changed camps; her few possessions, and the gifts exchanged among her family and friends, became treasured keepsakes. Small items such as these were made or decorated with the limited materials available, and ingenuity and artistic ability were prized.

Woven sleeping mat This notebook cover was recycled from the remains of a woven tikar (sleeping mat). It was embroidered with colourful flowers and given to Corina Levison as a 21st birthday present by one of her friends. REL25331

Crocheted hat Crocheted in the red, white and blue colours of the Dutch flag, and the orange of the Netherlands’s royal house, this thimble-holder also held needles. Another treasured birthday gift for Corina Levison, its light-hearted resemblance to a Mexican sombrero helped to distract from the misery of life in the camps. REL25335

Decorated tinBrooch decorated with embroided flowers Corina Levison also created gifts for her friends and family. Empty tins or boxes provided valuable storage for small personal possessions, and such items were eagerly sought. This tin, which originally contained Nugget shoe polish, was painted by Levison with a floral pattern and given to her mother or sister. A discarded button was covered with a scrap of fabric and embroidered with daisies to make a decorative brooch. REL25334; REL25336