Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Collection: The Next Generation | Kings Place

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Chamber Classics Unwrapped

Travel to Kings Place

Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Collection: The Next Generation

In 1937 Ruth Berendsohn married Kurt Borchard and in the following year, like many other Jewish refugees, fled Nazi Germany for Britain. Ironically, as a victim of persecution, she was then interned as an ‘enemy alien’, first in Holloway prison and then in an internment camp on the Isle of Man. Her semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical novel, We are Strangers Here , vivid enough to make a memorable film, is based on her Holloway experiences while her detention on the Isle of Man demonstrated her extraordinary resilience. While there she devised a programme of morale boosting jobs for her fellow detainees, many of whom were bereaved, as well as bringing up her daughter Katherine. (Her husband Kurt was separately interned in Dorset.) After the war this cultivated and resolute woman followed up her interest in memoirs and diaries by focusing upon their visual arts equivalent, self-portraits. With a certain chutzpah she offered promising artists of the day 21 guineas for their self-portrait and was rarely refused. She was prescient, too: the collection that she acquired includes Euan Uglow, Anthony Eyton, Patrick Proctor and Roger Hilton, a veritable constellation of future stars.

In 2011 a Borchard self-portrait competition was held to signal the centenary of her birth as well as a means of bringing the collection up to date. Celia Paul’s poignant, even desolate study was the winner and other participants whose work has since been purchased include Mary Mabbutt, Maggi Hambling and Marcelle Hanselaar. In the original collection there were only five women artists and their greater representation now is not a matter of a feminist redressing of the gender balance but simply a recognition of quality. The current exhibition includes thirty new acquisitions, as well as selected works from the original collection of 101 paintings.

Above: © Hannah Webb, Short-Sighted Astigmatic Bathroom Stupor, oil on flock, 38 x 38 cm.

Enclosed Gallery and Bookshop:
Tuesday -  Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm

Kings Place Gallery will be closed on Wednesday 7 November 2012.
Closed Sundays and Bank Holidays and between exhibitions for re-hanging.
Admission free


Telephone: 020 7520 1485
Fax: 020 7520 1487
Email: kpg@kingsplace.co.uk

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