A series of short filmed interviews to acknowledge and celebrate the remarkable contribution first and second generation refugees from Nazi Europe have made to the arts in Britain.
Interviews filmed by Andrew Snell, assisted by Eileen Hughes.
Andrew Snell is a television executive producer, consultant and trainer specialising in the development, shooting and delivery of original ideas for factual programmes and videos. He has an international reputation as a programme maker.
Carrying the Candle
“We were at home together, just the two of us, “says the painter Barbara Loftus of her mother aged 85. “She was looking at the china cabinet next to us and then she started to talk about the day the SA came to confiscate the porcelain, and I was so shocked I just felt I had a responsibility to do something.” Barbara’s mother, Hildegard, was 22 years old at the time of Kristallnacht in Berlin and had never previously spoken about her childhood there or of her family because Barbara’s Anglo-Irish father was vehemently anti-Zionist.
It became a compulsion for Barbara to explore as much as she could of her mother’s early life, the Tiergarten house where she lived and the family members who later perished. In her deeply evocative work, Barbara graphically inhabits the world they lived in and vicariously experiences some of their suffering.
Filmed and Edited by Andrew Snell with Eileen Hughes
Eva Aldbrook 1925-2020
A lively and often humorous interview with the painter and fashion illustrator Eva Aldbrook, filmed in 2019.
Born in Germany in 1925, Eva went to Bunce Court school in Kent which was a refuge for children escaping from Nazi Europe, Gerard Hoffnung and Frank Auerbach were her fellow pupils, and it was here she met her future husband, Alexander Urbach.
Eva studied costume design at St Martin’s School of Art. Exceptionally talented and versatile as an artist, her output included stunning fashion sketches for Vogue, Harpers & Queen and The Telegraph. She had a column in the Evening Standard and for four years created witty and clever costume designs for Nathan’s Costumiers.
Out of the Rubble
Ann Baer is 105 years old. She is known for her works of historical fiction but in this film she tells the story of her husband, Bernhard Baer. A German émigré, Baer used collotype printing machines dug from the rubble of post-war Berlin to create remarkable facsimile prints of contemporary artists’ work. He helped to make Ganymed Press pre-eminent among art publishers in Britain after the war. Filmed and Edited by Andrew Snell and Eileen Hughes with the kind assistance of Anna Nyburg.
My Finest Role
Actress and dancer, Ruth Posner, tells the story of her escape from the Warsaw Ghetto as a young girl and how she had to spend two years pretending to be a good Catholic girl to save her life. Later, she was to learn the terrible truth of what happened to her parents.
A Stark Struggle
Beate Planskoy tells the tragic story of her sister, Eva Frankfurther. The two young girls, aged 9 and 11, arrived in England as refugees in 1939. Separated from their parents and put to board with a witch of a landlady, they quickly had to learn to live in the unexpressive and stiff-upper-lip world that was Britain before the war. After attending St Martins’s School of Art, Eva chose to live in London’s East End so she could paint the people she cared for – dockers, factory workers and refugees from across the world. Her paintings and drawings reveal an empathy for her subjects that is rare among artists. After a visit to the newly-formed state of Israel in 1958, Eva returned to London but the starkness of her life became too much and she killed herself at the age of 28.
Siberia Saved Me
At the outset of World War Two, Janet Haig, aged two, was deported with her mother from their village in Poland to Siberia. Janet still keeps the little blue pot she took on that miserable journey in a crowded cattle truck. But this seeming misfortune turned into a twisted kind of blessing because it meant Janet and her mother escaped the horrors of the Holocaust, unlike the rest of their family. After school and art college in Australia, Janet came to England to establish herself as one of Britain’s most original and creative ceramicists and her work reflects both the childhood foraging habits acquired in Siberia as well as striking images of the Australian Outback.
Filmed and Edited by Andrew Snell with Eileen Hughes
Inside the Outside
Julie Held is London born and bred. But her parents were refugees from Nazi Germany and in this film we see how her feelings about them and what they went through are reflected in her compelling portraits. Julie also delves into her extraordinary paintings of shops and shoes. They are visual metaphors for the feelings many refugees have of not quite belonging, but they also explore the roles we all forced to play and the transience of life itself; how today’s longed-for objects of beauty and seduction become tomorrow’s charity shop castoffs, waiting for a new life to animate them once again. Julie teaches at The Royal Drawing School and was the invited portrait artist at the Royal Portrait Exhibition 2018 where her painting of her elderly father, The Last Portrait, was shown.
The Precipice Behind
Ruth Rix was born in Leamington Spa. As a young girl she was constantly on the move with her mother, the artist Helga Michie, living in rented rooms in shared houses witnessing frequent comings and goings and hearing shocking stories of the fate of family members who had stayed behind in Vienna. Her paintings reflect this fractured world of moving huts and see-through houses with talismans like staircases and dogs witnessing all.
The Émigrés who transformed the British Art World: Brave New Visions
Interviews with the descendants of three émigré art dealers filmed by Andrew Snell
Interviews conducted by Sue Grayson Ford
Crane Kalman Gallery
Andrew and Sally Kalman describe their father’s brave attempt to open a modern art gallery in an old air-raid shelter in Manchester in 1949. In the early days, Andras Kalman used a sandwich-board for publicity and strapped Sutherland paintings and Moore sculptures to his car roof but with the timely support of L S Lowry he eventually made a success of it. He opened the Crane Kalman Gallery in Knightsbridge in 1957 featuring mainly modern British artists like Ben Nicholson. Kalman, who lost most of his family to the Holocaust, was also a pioneering collector of early British Folk Art and this collection is now housed at Compton Verney in Warwickshire.
René Gimpel tells the story of his family’s remarkable exploits during the second world war with the British Army at El Alamein and Monte Cassino and, undercover, with the Special Operations Executive, The Baker Street Irregulars. He reveals how the Gimpel Fils gallery was set up in 1946 using proceeds from the sale of old master paintings that had amazingly survived the Blitz hidden in a garage in Paddington. René believes it was precisely because they were outsiders with a different cultural heritage that so many Jewish émigrés from Europe chose to champion modern art after the war. He describes the privilege of working with artists, who, he says, have a different way of “reading images” and of working with clever, knowledgeable collectors like David Bowie.
Annely Juda Fine Art
“Hitler was a painter, but not a very good one.” With these words, perhaps not surprisingly, David Juda’s grandfather found himself imprisoned and his business appropriated by the Nazis. Annely, David’s mother even heard Hitler giving a speech at her school in Kassel in Germany but, David says, she was always eager to embrace the future and in later years showed no bitterness towards her homeland. She set up Annely Juda Fine Art in Soho with David in 1967 and they established a reputation for championing Central European Modernism and the new generation of British abstract artists. “Bad figurative art” said Annely “is a lot worse than any abstract art” and she earned in David’s words a reputation for being “honest, knowledgeable and correct,” a legacy he seeks to continue.
With thanks to Micropathology Ltd