Yesterday, Sunday 16 April, marked Charlotte Salomon’s centenary. I find myself imagining what the trajectory of her life – and art – might have been had she survived the Holocaust. Would she have rebuilt her life and perhaps settled in Amsterdam, where her parents had taken refuge during the war, and raised a family with her husband, fellow refugee Alexander Nagler? Would she have gone on to become a well-known artist and perhaps a grandmother and great-grandmother, founding a dynasty of artists? Perhaps she would now be celebrating her centenary. Her stepmother, the renowned mezzo soprano Paula Salomon-Lindberg, lived to celebrate hers, dying at the age of 102 in the year 2000.
Following a visit to Auschwitz in 2012, Sira Soetendorp felt a deep need to preserve the memory of all the lost family members. The Dutch artist used carved outlines drawn in oil paint to fashion portraits based on family photographs, which make up her exhibition Vanished Families. Here she discusses the exhibit with JR’s Arts Editor Judi Herman, plus you will hear Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, Sira’s husband and Emeritus Rabbi of the Hague, who is an award-winning human rights advocate.
Vanished Families runs until Monday 27 February at Etz Chayim Gallery, Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue, HA6 3AA. 019 2382 2592. Viewing by appointment: email@example.com. www.npls.org.uk/etzchayim.htm
Janet Haig is one of the ceramicists whose pieces (pictured above), as well as a film showing how she works, are featured in Shaping Ceramics at the Jewish Museum London. The exhibition explores the work of pioneering ceramicists, tracing their influence on subsequent generations of ceramic artists whose Jewish heritage has shaped their work. Polish-born artist Haig joins JR’s arts editor Judi Herman here for a very personal tour of the exhibition, discussing the experiences that have moulded her work: from the hardships of the war years in a Siberian prison camp with her mother, to her formative childhood in Australia (where she studied painting) after they discovered that their closest family had perished in the Holocaust, to her arrival in the UK in 1962 and work teaching in a boys’ school.
Haig reveals that her first inspiration might go back as far as those harsh days in Siberia: “My mother was able to take one object with her [to Siberia] and she suddenly saw this little pot (I still have it in my possession), which she grabbed hold of because, as I was a baby, she thought it would be useful to warm things up. It’s enamel, blue on the outside, white on the inside and maybe that has had some kind of inspiration on my pots.”
Shaping Ceramics: From Lucie Rie to Edmund de Waal runs until Sunday 26 February, at Jewish Museum, NW1 7NB. 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
Watch ceramic artist Janet Haig demonstrate the ancient pottery-making technique of hand building on Monday 23 January, 11.30am-12.30pm, £7.50, £6.50 concs, at Jewish Museum, NW1 7NB. 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
Continue reading to see images of work featured in the exhibition, as mentioned in the interview; and find out more about key artists in the exhibition in the January 2017 issue of Jewish Renaissance.
The London Jewish Museum’s curator Joanne Rosenthal takes JR’s arts editor Judi Herman on a guided tour of Jukebox, Jewkbox! A Century on Shellac and Vinyl. The exciting interactive exhibition explores 20th century popular culture through shellac and vinyl, celebrating the history of Jewish inventors, musicians, composers, music producers and songwriters, as well as the artistry of the album cover.
Jukebox, Jewkbox! A Century On Shellac and Vinyl runs until 16 October at the Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
NB: This exhibition was developed by the Jewish Museum Hohenems in collaboration with the Jewish Museum Munich and is on a European tour (some material has been specially added just for its showing at the Jewish Museum London).
Photo by Jewish Museum Hohenems/Dietmar Walser
An audio tour of the London Jewish Museum’s new exhibition, Moses, Mods and Mr Fish: The Menswear Revolution, charting the emergence of the modern male wardrobe. Join Judi Herman on an exclusive journey guided by curator Elizabeth Selby from the tailoring workshops of the mid-19th century to the boutique revolution and mod culture of the Swinging ‘60s. The exhibition tells the story through the huge number of Jewish companies at the forefront of the major developments and changes in the design, manufacturing and retail of men’s clothing from the mid-19th to late-20th century. Among the highlights are the clothes themselves – including the brown suede jacket worn by John Lennon during the recording of The Beatles’ 1963 album, With the Beatles. Judi rounds off her visit by sharing a rather special early ad for Moses and Son Menswear.
Moses, Mods and Mr Fish: The Menswear Revolution runs until 19 June at Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
JR’s arts editor Judi Herman joins Joanne Rosenthal, curator of the London Jewish Museum’s Blood exhibition, to take you on a guided audio tour. This cutting edge exhibition explores the provocative and complex subject of blood, featuring manuscripts, prints, Jewish ritual and ceremonial objects, art, film, literature and cultural ephemera to present a rich exploration of how blood can unite and divide, reflecting on over 2,000 years of history.
Blood testing and donation at the museum
Anyone interested in saving lives through blood donation is invited to attend a Know Your Group day at the Jewish Museum, to register and test likely blood groups, on Sunday 17 January ahead of donation in February (when donors will be invited to give blood). There is no need to register in advance for the Know Your Group days – simply turn up between 10am and 4pm.
Blood runs until 28 February at London Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
Vienna’s famous boulevard, the Ringstrasse, was a thriving hub for Jewish bourgeoisie in 19th century Austria. David Herman reviews Ringstrasse: A Jewish Boulevard which accompanies an exhibition on the street at Vienna’s Jewish Museum.
Fin-de-siècle Vienna has become a source of fascination for cultural historians over the past forty years. There are several reasons. It was one of the birthplaces of 20th century art and ideas: writers such as Schnitzler and Hofmannstahl, painters such as Klimt and Kokoschka, great figures of Modernism from Freud to Schoenberg. “In almost every field of human thought and activity,” writes Ray Monk in his biography of Wittgenstein, “the new was emerging from the old, the twentieth century from the nineteenth.”
Acclaimed sculptor Simone Krok’s latest exhibition, Paradise Lost, is named after John Milton’s 17th-century epic poem and explores the crucial themes of Milton’s work: creation, the fall of man, the loss of innocence and of free will. Milton’s work was heavily influenced by the Old Testament and the story of Adam and Eve, and Krok also takes inspiration from the Old Testament, as well as other religious traditions. Many of the pieces in Paradise Lost are inspired by the Jewish spiritual practice of Kabbalah.
With exactly a month left to go and see this glorious exhibition, Judi Herman takes listeners on an audio tour with curator Elizabeth Selby to whet appetites. There are dresses from different decades – Edwardian, flapper and home-made wartime austerity. There are invitations, menus and even dance cards. There’s a range of ketubot (Jewish marriage certificates) from different eras and from plain to highly decorated. There’s a gallery of glamorous photo portraits of happy couples by Boris – the doyen of wedding photographers – and of course his giant camera is on display too. There’s even a chance to stand under the chupah (Jewish wedding canopy)! Judi Herman got to do just that, as she and Elizabeth Selby explored the fascinating history of weddings within the Jewish community from the 1880s to the mid-20th century. So even if you can’t make it to the exhibition, this tour will make you feel as if you too have been invited to the wedding!
By Judi Herman
For Richer For Poorer: Weddings Unveiled runs until 31 May and Your Jewish Museum: Love runs until 19 April. Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert Street, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
London-based artist Julian Hanford is planning to create an art installation composed of six million domino tiles to commemorate World War II and the 70 years that have passed since its end. The project, FALL, is estimated to cost £1.58m and Hanford is looking to you, the public, for help.