I was born three weeks after the Coronation, to German Jewish refugee parents, and grew up in North West London close to Hampstead Heath. I occasionally went to North London Collegiate School, where I did not excel, after which I started art school. After studying painting at Kingston, I took an MA in Art History at Sussex under Norbert Lynton, and then went to the Royal College of Art Painting School in 1978, under the formidable Peter de Francia. Both my mentors were refugees, de Francia from Belgium and Lynton from Germany. I emerged at 28; an artist, an art critic and shortly afterwards a university lecturer, the latter two to make a living. I did a lot of writing to deadlines and plenty of studio work teaching painting, both of which I greatly enjoyed.
By 1992, three children later, and horrified at the status of women artists (including myself), I co-founded of The Foundation for Women’s Art. FWA was a charity aimed at increasing public knowledge and understanding of women artists through exhibitions, many of which I curated and wrote about. By the time it closed in 2006 I felt the issues had moved on.
In between, I had become fascinated by print and went in 1999 to Camberwell School of Art to take a 2-year MA in printmaking. I started to show my work more widely, and have it collected by museums and kind individuals. I selected, spoke about, wrote about and curated print exhibitions; including co curating ‘Process and Innovation, British Printmaking Japan’ with Rebecca Salter at the Kyoto Museum.
I started a gallery in 2006. Printroom, in Hampstead, dealt in contemporary printmaking, it was tiny, and a modest and enjoyable success from the start. It moved with me and my husband Chris to Suffolk in 2014, where it lives happily in a large converted cowshed and online (www.printroom.studio).
My interest in family stories is long standing and for some years I did life story interviews for the British Library, including some exceptional individuals: Annely Juda, Norbert Lynton, John Kasmin and Leslie Waddington. Increasingly I focussed on my own family and their complicated and often untold stories, though I was too late to record them in person. In 2013 I went to work in the city print studio in Dresden. These prints became ‘Indelible Marks: the Dresden Project’, shown in 2014 at the Kreuzkirche Gallery in Dresden, Germany for the 70th commemoration of the bombing, and at the Herbert Museum, Coventry, UK in 2015 -2016 for the 75th commemoration of that bombing. I also made a large print installation for Coventry Cathedral.
I was approached by the Dresden Trust, a charity that works on reconciliation between Britain and Saxony, to become a trustee, and I am now the Vice Chair. In 2014, after the referendum on membership of the EU was announced, I applied for, and got, my German citizenship; I hope more as a symbolic gesture than anything I will ever need to use.
Dissent and Displacement has been three years work, but the ideas have been in gestation all my life.