It made quite a picture. There they were — more than 200 artists, their families and friends crowded into the London Jewish Cultural Centre for the opening of the second Art House community exhibition last week.
The exhibition, which is sponsored by the JC, attracted 312 entries by over 100 artists, a significant rise from last year’s inaugural event. Of those, 110 works were selected for display and have been hung at Ivy House, headquarters of the LJCC.
But the increased number of entries and a standard of work much higher than 12 months ago persuaded the judging committee, with myself in the chair, that the two prizes we had at our disposal were not going to be enough — so we decided to award four.
First prize went to Alfred Wolfe Lester for his delicate pencil drawing, View from Parliament Hill, which was quickly bought by a collector. The artist had certainly suffered for his art— he had come to the private view with his leg encased in plaster, the result of an injury to his achilles tendon sustained while climbing Parliament Hill during a drawing class.
The second prize was awarded to photographer Miriam Reik for Looking for my Mother and Father — Postcards from the Past. The work is made up of a series of postcards created by the artist, showing her mother in various holiday locations.
She explained the inspiration for the work. “My father died young, when my mother was 49 and I was 19. So, I could only view their relationship through childish eyes and never as an adult. But when I discovered a metal box full of colour transparencies taken by my father during the late ’50s and ’60s, I was reminded of the many foreign trips they took together, which was quite unusual for the times. But maybe not quite so extraordinary for a couple of Jewish refugee survivors of Nazi Europe, who were once again free to travel the continent that they had to run away from 20 years earlier.”
Third prize was given jointly to Tony Abraham, for his vibrant painting, Market Day, Morocco, and to Frances Balcombe, who had entered her print, Peas in a Pod.
Irish Drinkers, painted by Daniella Rosenfeld, was highly commended by the judges. She said: “I am attending painting classes at the Hampstead Institute. My tutor has told me I need to take my work to the next level. Exhibiting here is the first step.”
Even the artists who went without prizes were in effusive mood. Judy Bermant, widow of JC writer Chaim, noted: “There is such a buzz here. There is a real need for people who have talent but who aren’t professional artists to be given the opportunity to show their work. Art House is a real showcase for the community.”