Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Roxana's Album

Our niece recently celebrated her Bat Mitzvah, so Mister Handmade in Israel and I made a quick visit to the UK for a long weekend to join in the celebrations. Of course I took one of my customized guest books with me, just as I have done in the past for her older sister and brother.
My sister-in-law, Roxana's Mum, gave me a few themes to work with before I started work on the book. Roxana is into her iPhone (aren't they all?) which Mum told me is encased in a Simpsons doughnut cover. She enjoys going to the Zionist youth movement NOAM (an acronym for No'ar Masorti, Masorti Youth), and loves to eat sushi and lamb cutlets! She likes playing football and is keen on Arsenal F.C., just like the rest of our family. Roxana has recently taken up playing the drums (she has drumsticks and a practice pad so far). Mum suggested that I also include a Torah scroll, since Roxana planned to read from the Torah for her Bat Mitzvah, and also asked me to add her JFS school badge. Finally, like her cousin, Roxana loves dogs! A dog had to feature somewhere on the cover.
I have shown Roxana wearing her NOAM sweatshirt. She is looking at her iPhone and stroking a cute little dog at the same time. To her left is a Torah scroll, a lamb cutlet and some sushi, and to her right her practice pad, her school badge and a football. The date of her Bat Mitzvah celebration and her name appear in English, along with the words Bat Mitzvah in Hebrew. Star of Davids (known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David) appear in two corners of the cover.
I decorated several pages inside the album as well. The opening page shows a hand (presumably Roxana's!) holding up her iPhone. Next is a page displaying the NOAM logo, followed by a page with some tiny sushi and chopsticks on it. Another page features the Arsenal crest and a black and white football, and lastly I added that cute dog again. Each page also features a gold Star of David placed on a blue background.
Mister Handmade in Israel and I had a good time in London and, even though we were only there for a few days, we squeezed in a lot! We watched proudly as our niece performed her Bat Mitzvah in the synagogue, and partied with her on the Sunday evening. We fitted in some shopping, and I met a friend to see the wonderful Designs On Britain exhibition at the Jewish Museum (I blogged about that in a separate post). We also enjoyed seeing the hit musical Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand. The show was a lot of fun with some amusing one-liners, fabulous costumes and glitz.
Not bad for a three day visit!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Designs on Britain

Mister Handmade in Israel and I made a flying visit to London recently for our niece's Bat Mitzvah. Most of the weekend was taken up with the celebrations, but I did manage to find a few hours on the Sunday morning to visit the wonderful Designs on Britain exhibition at London's Jewish Museum.
20th century design in the UK was greatly influenced by the arrival in the 1930s and 40s of pioneering Jewish émigré designers from continental Europe. These designers brought with them a knowledge of European modernism, which they had learnt at celebrated design schools on the continent. There they learnt new techniques such as photomontage which had not yet reached Britain. Others studied at the Reimann School, founded in 1902 in Berlin but the school was forced to relocate to London in 1937 after Nazi persecution of its Jewish owners. It was the first commercial art school to open in Britain.
Designs on Britain features the work of these immigrant designers and covers graphic design, product design and corporate identities. It focuses on 20 different designers who created work for major British companies or British events, and who helped import European styles into British life. Many of these designers went on to dominate British graphic design in the 1940s, creating many of Britain's most iconic symbols.
Among the designs featured in the exhibition are Tom Karen's 70s Raleigh Chopper bike and a Marble Run toy, early iterations of Penguin books by Romek Marber, and even the popular circle-and-bar London bus stop sign by Hans Schleger. On display are iconic posters for the London Underground, British Rail, the General Post Office and the War Office created by designers FHK Henrion, Hans Ungar and Dorrit Dekk.
Originally destined for a career in set design in Austria, Dorrit Dekk arrived at work one day to be handed a note stating, 'Jews not allowed'. Escaping to London, she worked for the government’s Central Office of Information producing iconic posters such as ‘Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases’ before setting up on her own as a graphic designer.
Another famous poster, 'Dig for Victory', was designed by FHK Henrion, who also started his own business and was a pioneer in developing the idea of corporate identity. His clients included such stalwart British companies as the Post Office, the National Theatre and Tate and Lyle.
The exhibition also includes a powerful design by Henrion entitled Four Hands and dated 1944. It was a design for the US Office of War Information, for use in Europe after D-Day and shows four hands, each marked with the flag of one of the allies, pulling apart a swastika.
Designs on Britain is organised thematically across travel, war-time, publishing, toys, vehicles and the 1951 Festival of Britain. Many of the designers went from being interned in Britain to working for the War Office. Post-war, the 1951 Festival of Britain was very significant. A number of the designers were commissioned to produce work for the Festival. This was a nationwide party to celebrate the end of the war and a new beginning. It meant that they entered the world of design in a blaze of glory. They then went on to work for many companies including London Transport and British Rail, for the General Post Office, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) as well as in corporate identity for companies such as Penguin, John Lewis and Schweppes.
Though each of the designers was Jewish-born none of them were particularly religious in their outlook. George Him worked hard for Israel but even he had not had a particularly Jewish upbringing. He was close friends with Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, with whom he had studied in Russia. It is probable that many of the commissions he received from Israeli organisations came through Kollek. In 1960 he was appointed Chief Designer for El Al, creating numerous designs for the company.
FHK Henrion also worked closely with Israel as his parents had settled there before the war. He designed brochures for the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad and for WIZO and he regularly taught at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.
Possibly what all the designers had in common was that they all felt that they were outsiders. All were involved in various professional organisations and they mixed together. They were all very supportive of each other and helped each other to find clients and commissions.
The exhibition was guest curated by Naomi Games, the daughter of renowned British designer Abram Games. The Jewish Museum organised a very successful exhibition of Games' work to mark the centenary of his birth in 2014 and, after the exhibition, Naomi started to think about all the designers who were friends of her parents and who used to visit their home. She decided it was about time their work was shown too. Abram Games' work is not included in the exhibition as the curators chose to include only those designers who were born abroad, and Games was born in Whitechapel. He was, however, close friends with almost all the designers included.
Designs on Britain is on at London's Jewish Museum and continues until 15th April 2018. I highly recommend a visit!

* This post has been shared on Seasons, No Rules Weekend Blog Party, Sundays In My CityWelcome To The WeekendThe Good. The Random. The Fun.Monday Morning Blog Club and Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday).
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Monday, 4 December 2017

'Lamed' is for Lisa

An idea has been brewing in my mind for a while and I recently had some time to create it. I wanted to combine my love for papercutting with some Hebrew. I decided to cut out initials and started with the letter Lamed, the twelfth letter of the Hebrew alphabet (pronounced Lah-med). The letter has the sound of "l" as in "Lisa". It seemed like a good place to begin.
Lamed in gematria (a mystical tradition that assigns a numerological value to Hebrew letters) represents the number 30. As an abbreviation, it can stand for litre. Also, a sign on a car with a Lamed on it means that the driver is a student of driving (the Lamed stands for lomed, learner). When the Lamed is the first letter of the word it can be a prefix, indicating several different meanings: the infinitive "to," or toward or belonging to.
Finally, the Lamed is the tallest letter in the Hebrew Alphabet. The letter can look quite different in cursive Hebrew, Rashi script or with a serif. I drew a sans-serif letter and filled it with flowers, leaves  and one of my signature little birds.
My letters will be available unframed. They measure 12x17cm and fit perfectly into the mount of an IKEA 18x24cm RIBBA frame. Do let me know which initial you would like me to make next.
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