A British artist’s painting is to be the centrepiece of an event dedicated to the Balfour Declaration at this year’s Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art.
‘Balfour Accomplished’ by Beverley-Jane Stewart, a large-scale oil on canvass, will be on display at Jerusalem’s Machtarot Museum (the Underground Prisoners Museum), for six weeks from 1October.
The Biennale will showcase the work of nearly 200 Israeli and international artists in dozens of exhibitions hosted across eight venues throughout Jerusalem. The theme this year is ‘watershed,’ and the exhibition dedicated to the Balfour Declaration will mark one of the most important watershed moments in recent Jewish history.
Stewart, who is recognised for her exploration of the relationship between Jewish and British culture, said ‘Balfour Accomplished’ included imagery “from the past and present” and that she was “honoured” to feature in such a prestigious Israeli event.
The award-winning artist’s painting helps to commemorate this year’s 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration – the historic letter dated 2 November 1917 from then Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
“Balfour in 1917 occurred at a time when Jewish people were experiencing massive pogroms and persecution in Eastern Europe,” she said. “It was recognising the fact that people had a right over their own destiny. This was a bold and brave action for a British politician to initiate.”
She continues: “I still believe that whatever a person’s religion or ethnicity, they have a right to be in control of their lives. This is still sadly relevant in today’s society where many people have lost their identity. This could be interpreted as a utopian wish but as an artist I aim for ideals.”
She said researching it had involved travelling to Israel and had been “fascinating and rewarding,” adding: “I am looking forward to conveying this in my work along with marking the significance of this date in both Jewish and European history.”
Ram Ozeri, founder of The Jerusalem Biennale, said Stewart’s work “is truly unique in the way it brings the evolution of Jewish and British identity to life and we are delighted to be able to showcase her”.