New Free Online Events Programme
Following the well-attended and well-received programme of events held to coincide with this year’s Refugee Week (15-21 June), we’re pleased to announce a further series of free online events for late July. Click here for details.
Insiders/Outsiders Online Events for Refugee Week
15-21 June 2020
In partnership with the Association of Jewish Refugees and Four Corners, London
To coincide with this year’s Refugee Week, which like almost everything else has had to go digital, Insiders/Outsiders put on a lively and diverse programme of free online events. Click here for full details.
Sanctuary and Exile Project
Paul Koralek 1933-2020
Eva Aldbrook 1925-2020
It is with deep regret that the death of Eva Aldbrook has been announced by her family.
She was nearly 95 and had lived for the last five months in a care home in Oakham, Rutland, near her daughter and family.
Eva (née Mehl) was born on 1st July 1925 into a bourgeois Jewish household in Hamburg, with an older sister Miriam and a happy childhood full of sport, friends and love. Her mother was enlightened and worked in an art gallery and instilled a love of art in the girls. Their father, a chemist and inventor of underwater welding and fluorescent paint, was also sporty and loving.
Miriam came first to Bunce Court, a school set up in Kent as a refuge for children escaping from Nazi Europe and Eva followed a year later in 1938. Their parents managed to avoid the death camps and escaped to London in 1939. Eva met Alexander Urbach (later changed to Aldbrook) at Bunce Court aged 13, vowed to marry at 21, which they did at Golders Green’s Dunstan Road Synagogue in 1946.
Prior to that she studied costume design at St Martins School of Art and danced for the Anglo-Polish Ballet until she had to do war work as a developer at Kodak. She worked as a costume designer and later as a freelance fashion artist. She studied painting at Camden Arts Centre where she served as Vice Chairman for 12 years, before moving to Tuscany in 1989 where they had a large olive farm where Eva had a studio and became a prolific painter, enjoying many exhibitions of her work locally and one in Stuttgart, where pupils of a school made a dance of her life which they performed to her and Alex. In 2002 they sold the farm and moved to Florence, finally returning to England to be near their family in 2006.
She had an exceptional talent as an artist: with an extraordinary versatility of work which included stunning fashion sketches from her time when she freelanced for Vogue, Harpers & Queen, The Telegraph and had a column in the Evening Standard. It included wonderfully humorous costume designs when she worked for Nathans Costumiers and designs for her father-in-law’s London Opera Club. Early pencil sketches as a teenager, showed what was to come: charcoal and pastel life drawings, flowers painted in rich oils, a variety of rich scenes from her life in Tuscany, portraits of Henry Moore, Arnold Wesker, Maria Callas and other famous people and exquisite, colourful scenes of her visits to India. Still drawing until almost the end, she produced around 50 sketches of her carers at Stamford and, in the last week of her life, drew a sleeping resident of the care home.
Through her son, Mark Aldbrook and his partner Robert Drake, she was discovered late in life by Gray M.C.A., art dealers who specialise in fashion. She was delighted to have been included in two exhibitions of fashion artists in London where her sketches attracted high prices.
Eva was equally thrilled to have had her drawing of Sigmund Nissel, one of the founders of the Amadeus Quartet, included in Ben Uri’s exhibition of refugees’ work at the German Embassy for their exhibition entitled “Finchleystrasse” in 2018 where she was delighted to be hanging between Frank Auerbach (who also attended Bunce Court) and Lucian Freud. Also in that year, one of the pictures that she had donated to the Ben Uri Gallery of Arnold Wesker was included in their exhibition “Liberators: Extraordinary women artists from the Ben Uri Collection”.
A year later there was further excitement when she was interviewed and filmed in her home in Stamford for the Insiders/Outsiders project.
Recently she was made so proud to have a chapter about her work included in a book by Anna Nyburg on the contribution that refugees from Nazism made to the British Fashion Trade.
The fact that the Ben Uri Gallery are dedicating their forthcoming on-line exhibition to mark the 80th anniversary of internment to her memory, is a tremendous accolade and one that she would have loved.
Monica Stark, 30 May 2020
The See-Through House
BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week
18-22 May; available on BBC Sounds for 23-27 days
Shelley Klein grew up in the Scottish Borders, in a house designed on a modernist open-plan grid; with colourful glass panels set against a forest of trees, it was like living in a work of art.
Shelley’s father, Bernat Klein, was a textile designer whose pioneering colours and textures were a major contribution to 1960s and 70s style. Thirty years on, Shelley moves back home to care for her father, now in his eighties: the house has not changed and neither has his uncompromising vision.
Shelley’s book is her father’s own story: an Orthodox Jewish childhood in Yugoslavia; his rejection of rabbinical studies to pursue a life of art; his arrival in post-war Britain and his imagining of a house filled with light and colour as interpreted by the architect Peter Womersley.
A book about the search for belonging and the pain of letting go, The See-Through House is a moving memoir of one man’s distinctive way of looking at the world, told with tenderness and humour and a daughter’s love.
Excerpts from the book are read by Barbara Flynn.