As we enter a new – and hopefully kinder – calendar year, it is clear that face-to-face gatherings are going to have to wait until the spring or quite possibly beyond. But on the positive side, we have all learnt, if not to love Zoom, at least to appreciate its unexpected advantages – above all, the fact that it allows people in far-flung geographical locations to participate in ways that would have been unthinkable before Covid.
In view of this, Insiders/Outsiders is pleased to announce a new series of online events over the first three months of 2021, most of them united by an emphasis on the often painful but inescapable power of family bonds. But they are also a moving tribute to the power of creativity.
Most of the events taking place on Mondays at 6pm are held in partnership with the Association of Jewish Refugees. A few events have been initiated by other organisations, but are listed here for their relevance to theme of Insiders/Outsiders.
On Thursday 7 January at 6.30pm, artist and Holocaust educator Caroline Slifkin will be in conversation with Dr. Amy Williams about the commemorative art project she has initiated, called Keepsakes of the Kindertransport: Holocaust Art Book Project. In her own words, “In lockdown we have had to find more creative ways to work together and learn. This project is a way to use the time to reflect, revisit and share stories and experiences with each other. Creating individual pieces, that will be joined with others in a collaborative art book, is a way of staying connected, feeling part of the community, connecting locally, nationally and internationally with one another. The project is open to members of the Second and Third Generations (Kinder, Holocaust survivors and refugees) around the world.”
This event is organised by the Second Generation Network.
On Monday 11 January at 6pm, Trevor Avery, director of the The Lake District Holocaust Project will give a talk about the first book to be published under the Second Generation imprint, Rock the Cradle by Austrian-born art therapist Marie Paneth.
Rock the Cradle is a rare eye witness account – written in 1947, but only recently re-discovered – of what life was like both at the Calgarth Estate near Windermere, home to some three hundred Holocaust survivor children, and for a small group of young women Holocaust survivors who lived in a hostel in London after the war. Helping to rebuild their shattered lives through art, Paneth writes movingly about the daily challenges she faced every day to try and help them come to terms with the terrible atrocities they had endured.
Trevor will be joined by Henry Hochland, co-founder of Second Generation Publishing, and the session will be chaired by Monica Bohm-Duchen, initiator and director of Insiders/Outsiders.
This event is held in partnership with the Association of Jewish Refugees.
On Monday 25 January at 6pm, to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, No Night So Dark will tell the remarkable story of the Czech-Jewish Wels family, from the late nineteenth century through World War Two to the present day. When Oxford-based Colin Wels first opened a box that his father Tomáš had kept for decades in the back of a cupboard, he had little idea what it contained. His father – the only family member to survive the Holocaust – had never spoken about his life before he came to Britain as a 19-year-old in 1939. Through the contents of the box, made up of hundreds of letters and documents, photographs, sketches and drawings, the immense creative energy of several generations of the family was brought to life.
This event will include a discussion chaired by Prague-based journalist David Vaughan with Tomáš’s son Colin Wels and translator Gerry Turner, who played a key role in helping Colin to find a way back to his family’s past, and marks the recent publication of “Sancta Familia”, a humorous – but with hindsight, hugely poignant – evocation of family life, written in late 1938 by Tomáš and illustrated by his 13-year-old brother Martin.
The boys’ father, Rudolf Wels, was an accomplished architect in interwar Czechoslovakia, who studied in Vienna and worked closely with Adolf Loos. Loos was also the architect of the Winternitz Villa in Prague, which recently housed the exhibition “No Night So Dark”, devoted to the Wels family’s story. There are plans to bring the exhibition to Berlin, Munich and London.
This event is held in partnership with The Czech Centre, London.
On Wednesday 10 February at 6.30pm, Julia Seiber Boyd will give an illustrated talk about her hugely talented Hungarian-born parents, composer Mátyás Seiber and Lilla Bauer, principal dancer with the pioneering Ballets Jooss. This event is organized by the Cambridge Szeged Society.
On Monday 15 February at 6pm, Brixton-based artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer will talk about and read extracts from her very successful volume Velcom to Inklandt: Poems in my grandmother’s Inklisch originally published by Short Books in 2017. Described in The Guardian as “uplifting, funny, heart-breaking – a one-off”, the collection, featuring Herxheimer’s own illustrations, comprises a series of dramatic monologues in the voice of her German-Jewish grandmother, which are best read out loud. A new edition of the book is to be published in January, and a new song cycle based on the poems is in the pipeline.
On Monday 22 February at 6pm, accomplished printmaker Käthe Deutsch will give an illustrated talk about her father, Viennese-born artist Eric Doitch (1923-2000), her mother Alice Mary Fitzpayne, also an artist, and the lively cultural milieu in which they moved – which included eminent émigrés such Erich Fried, Elias Canetti as well as lesser-known ones such as Ernst Eisenmayer and Helen Grunfeld. She will also discuss the ways in which her own work has been impacted by her father’s experiences.
Looking Further Ahead
On Thursday 4 March at 6pm, lettering designer and carver John Neilson will be in conversation with design historian Tanya Harrod about his new book The Inscriptions of Ralph Beyer (foreword by Edmund de Waal), published on 11 January by Lund Humphries.
Ralph Beyer (1921-2008), exiled at the age of sixteen from Nazi Germany, made his home and career in Britain. He was a carver of stone inscriptions, best known for his huge ‘Tablets of the Word’ in Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral. These broke the mould of classical formality associated with British lettercarving after Eric Gill — their irregularity and roughness offending conventional notions of ‘correctness’. In fact, Beyer had spent a few formative months in Gill’s workshop, but his own unique voice owed as much to his childhood in Weimar Germany and his father’s wide interests, which ranged from Modernist architecture to ‘primitive’ art. In Britain, Beyer came to know Henry Moore and Nikolaus Pevsner, and was influenced by the artist and poet David Jones. He thus straddles both German and British traditions in lettering as well as the wider art world.
This is event is held in partnership with Lund Humphries.
On Monday 8 March at 6pm, visual artist Judith Tucker will talk about her mother, Berlin-born writer Eva Tucker (1929-2015), author of two vivid memoirs, Berlin Mosaic (2005) and Becoming English (2009), who came to the UK with her mother as a child in 1939. She will also introduce us to her own work, much of it profoundly influenced by an awareness of her family’s history.
Between 9 and 11 March, a major academic conference entitled The Second and Third Generation: Experiences of the Descendants of Refugees from National Socialism (the Triennial Conference of the Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies, University of London) will take place online.
On 17 March, there will be a groundbreaking one-day conference called ‘A Jewish Jesus: Art and Faith in the Shadow of World War II’. This is being organised by St. John’s Waterloo, home to two major paintings by émigré artist Hans Feibusch, in association with Insiders/Outsiders and Art+Christianity.
How did a German-Jewish refugee artist come to be responsible for more murals in Church of England churches than any other artist in its entire history? Who were the other Jewish artists employed by the Church or using Christian iconography in the post-war period? And what has become of their work today? Do these artists deserve greater recognition and what can be done to save their works, many of which are under threat?
Using Feibusch as a starting point, the conference will address the broader theme of Jewish artists who produced work for the Church and/or employed Christian iconography during the 1930s-1950s, a period dominated by the rise of Fascism, World War Two and the Holocaust, in which the figure of Jesus was often seen (by Jews and non-Jews alike) as the embodiment of contemporary Jewish suffering.
And on Monday 22 March at 6pm, tribute will be paid to the stained glass artist Rosalind Grimshaw (1945-2020) by her partner Patrick Costeloe and her close friend, painter Angela Baum, among others. The daughter of a German-Jewish refugee, she is best-known for the stunning Creation window she designed for Chester Cathedral.
Further details of the above and of other forthcoming events will be announced in our next newsletter.
Last but not least, this is to announce that a recording of the thought-provoking session about the planned Exilmuseum in Berlin held on 8 December is now available on the Insiders/Outsiders YouTube channel, alongside recordings of nearly all the other online events we hosted in 2020.