The Forced Journey - Artists In Exile 1933-45 At Ben Uri Gallery

By Culture24 Staff | 10 December 2008
painting of boats in a harbour

Martin Bloch Svendborg Harbour Courtesy Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art

Exhibition Preview: Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art, The Forced Journey Artists in Exile 1933-45, January 20 – April 19, 2009.

The Forced Journey is being hosted by Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art in conjunction with the Courtauld Institute, London, and features works from the Ben Uri collection along with loan pieces.

The exhibition is to be co-curated by Rachel Dickson and Sarah MacDougall who have collaborated on the Ben Uri’s extensive and groundbreaking series of exhibitions focusing on the ‘Whitechapel Boys.’

“The project came about after we were contacted by two parties. Jutta Vinzent from Birmingham University had given an exhibition from a private collection that she has access to in Birmingham and she was keen to show it in London," said curator Rachel Dickson.

“We liked the idea but wanted a bigger hook to hang it on and there was a dovetail between the artists in her exhibition and in our own collection so it was a case of waiting for the right moment. The Courtauld institute approached us to say that they were particularly interested in émigré art and they were staring a new teaching module on art and exile in Britain.”

painting of people in a boat

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Courtesy of Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art

She added: “The exhibition uses Jutta Vinzent’s pieces as a core along with pieces from our own collection and a few external loans. The exhibition is to act as a teaching tool and will show how the Ben Uri artists feature in émigré art.”

One of the exhibitions main themes is internment and how artists interned in camps during the Second World War continued to make art despite the situations that they found themselves in.

“The theme of internment specifically looks at how artists who were interned in camps on the Isle of Man continued to create work and how they managed to make the work," added Rachel. "For example, print makers used lino from the floors to continue making prints, and the exhibition also looks at the topics the artists covered.

“There are many topographical images so we get a view of what the camps would have looked like or images that relate to the experiences travelling to the camp and still life images from inside the camp.

painting of a man

Kurt Schwitters Courtesy of Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art

“The European artists were very aware of the idea of boredom and the importance of culture in every day life and they continued to hold exhibitions and concerts even though they were in this terrible situation.

“The streets of the Isle of Man were surrounded with barbed wire and guest houses where people would have stayed on holiday were turned into camp accommodation- where there would have been two people to a room on holiday there were now six.

“There are lovely images of the Isle of Man that look like holiday watercolours, which is a strange juxtaposition.”

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