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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Hannah Frank 110th birthday exhibition


18 November 2018

Hannah Frank 110th birthday exhibition

SCoJeC was delighted to host a reception at the opening of an exhibition of the art of celebrated Jewish artist Hannah Frank, to mark what would have been her 110th birthday.

Around 150 people attended the launch in Glasgow University's atmospheric Memorial Chapel, and were entertained by haunting but foot-tapping Klezmer music by Glasgow-based musicians The Bunch of Klezmer, and a kosher buffet provided by SCoJeC. University Chaplain, Rev Stuart MacQuarrie, welcomed the exhibition, and the visitors, to the chapel, which had been built at the very time that Hannah Frank was studying there, as a memorial to the 780 sons – and one daughter – of the university who lost their lives during the Great War. Originally a place of Christian worship, it is now very much a place of interfaith gathering, and has hosted several previous SCoJeC events.

Hannah Frank 110th birthday exhibition

90 years later, Hannah's niece, SCoJeC Projects and Outreach Manager Fiona Frank, opened the exhibition, saying that the exhibition connects the young Glasgow University student Hannah Frank with the young Glasgow University students who had worked with her to curate, plan, and organise the exhibition. In that way, the exhibition forms part of the Jewish Community's contribution to Scottish Interfaith Week, whose theme this year is "Connecting Generations". She also introduced Hannah's great nieces, Jen Rankin and Barbara Spevack, who both appear in Sarah Thomas's film Hannah Frank: The Spark Divine, which was shown during the evening.

Hannah Frank 110th birthday exhibition

Alice Strang, senior curator at Scottish National Galleries, spoke about Hannah Frank's place in the world of Scottish art. She had first become aware of Hannah's work while curating an exhibition to celebrate the achievements and reveal the challenges of Scottish women artists. She told us that Hannah's father had been advised by an artist friend that she should also train for another career while following her artistic dream, so she combined qualifying as a primary teacher with evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. It was while she was studying at Glasgow University that her drawings were first published in GUM, the University Magazine, and earned her a reputation for her "certainty of line, technical brilliance, imagination, and creativity that goes beyond comparison with Aubrey Beardsley and the Art Nouveau movement. That's what makes her interesting as an artist, and I think she deserves a place as a worthy successor to the older generation of Glasgow Girls, including Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh and Jessie M King".

Hannah Frank 110th birthday exhibition

Alice commented that Hannah's commitment to evening classes at the School of Art – from 1927 to 1966 – made her a poster girl for life-long learning and hard work. She had attended sculpture classes in 1952, initially to help her drawing skills, and that was when sculpture became her main medium. Her drawings were reproduced in GUM throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and her drawings, prints, and sculptures were exhibited in the Royal Glasgow Institute and Royal Scottish Academy from 1930 to 1997.

Alice thanked the student volunteers who had curated and organised the exhibition, and are working with Fiona Frank to catalogue and conserve Hannah Frank's drawings and sculptures as part of this project. She closed by remarking that "This exhibition is one of several important milestones in establishing and spreading the appreciation of Hannah Frank, an artist of whom this university, Glasgow, and Scotland can be proud".

Motions celebrating Hannah's life and work and commending the exhibition have been published in both the Scottish and UK parliaments

The exhibition runs to 6 February at Glasgow University Chapel, The Square, University of Glasgow. It is open Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm, except during the holiday period. Click here for more information about the artist and the exhibition including an extensive programme of tours, talks, workshops, walks, and archive tours.


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438