The latest exhibition in Studio 3 Gallery – After the Break; Grete Marks and Laure Provost looks anew at the work of two artists who were forced to become refugees, who had to flee Nazi Germany and begin their creative pursuits in a new land.
Fleeing the country and re-locating to England, the Bauhaus-trained Grete Marks had to sacrifice her successful pottery factory – all her pottery and paintings that were left behind were either lost or destroyed. Kurt Schwitters, a leading figure of the German avant-garde, fled to Norway prior to being interviewed by the Gestapo, eventually also travelling to England where, selling small paintings for small fees, he eventually died in obscurity in London in 1948.
The works on display in the gallery, predominantly pictures and some surviving pottery by Marks, include stark portraiture of friends made in England, as well as landscape views created in the Lake District and Spain. The images speak of loss, the post-emigration portraits looking out at the viewer with a sense of isolation. The floating colours of Two Boys from 1930 have a life and movement absent from stark portraits made after her arrival in England, whilst the landscapes seem to show a desire to engage with and to find a new home – they speak of new efforts to build a connection, a need to continue to create.
Amidst the mute testimony the exhibition provides, there is a particular poignancy about some of the music in the programme which Minerva Voices will perform at the #EarBox event next week. Gounod’s intimate motet, Da Pacem Domine, ‘Give peace, Lord,’ acquires a greater profundity in the context of the upheaval and terror implicit in the paintings. The medieval Kyrie setting, written by Hildegard von Bingen, sees two creative women looking at one another across the intervening centuries. There is also something especially moving about Brahms’ famous lullaby, Wiegenlied, which bids a moving, poignant farewell;’ Lullaby, good night…Tomorrow morning, if God wills, you will wake once again.’
The new exhibition reawakens the importance of Marks and Schwitters; come and experience the dialogue between art and music for yourself on Friday 12 February; admission free, more details here.