Their Safe Haven
Hungarian artists in Britain from the 1930s
Compiled and edited by Robert Waterhouse
Around 3,000 Hungarian émigrés found refuge in Britain before the Second World War, fleeing not only the clutches of the Third Reich but also the ills of twentieth century Hungary. A much smaller community than other Central European refugees, they nonetheless included numbers of talented artists, architects, film-makers and musicians.
When the critic Charles Rosner was asked to assemble an exhibition of graphics to mark the Hungarian Club’s April 1943 move to new premises in West London, he gave special prominence to 14 artists who had made their homes in Britain.
Robert Waterhouse’s book, patchworked together from interviews and archives in Budapest, Vienna, London and around the UK, incorporating lost images, unpublished diaries and out-of-print texts, reveals the lives and work of these mostly forgotten artists.
In the opinion of Sarah MacDougall, Head of Collections at the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, the book “brings the artists’ experiences vividly to life… and in doing so pays justice to the distinct and memorable Hungarian contribution to British visual culture.”
“brings the artists’ experiences vividly to life… and in doing so pays justice to the distinct and memorable Hungarian contribution to British visual culture.”
Visit the Their Safe Haven website
The book’s cover illustration, “Self-portrait in the Studio, 1941” is by George Buday. Buday, was the only one of the 14 not to be granted British citizenship. Wrongly suspected by MI5 of Communist allegiances, he suffered a nervous breakdown when Moscow crushed the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. He lived out his long life in a South London psychiatric hospital where he was encouraged to carry on working and found haven of a sort.
Today, as Britain veers away from Europe while Hungary turns a barbed brow to the East, the achievements of earlier generations in crossing cultural divides are of import to us all.
Manchester, Baquis Press, September 2018