The Independent London Newspaper
27th February 2017

Beauty from the unspeakable

    Jenny Stolzenberg paid homage to victims of Auschwitz with her ceramic shoes.

    Jenny Stolzenberg paid homage to victims of Auschwitz with her ceramic shoes.

    Published: 10 November, 2016

    IT was her father’s silence about his horrific experiences in the Nazi concentration camps that inspired Jenny Stolzenberg to start a “conversation” with him – however painful – after his death.

    Jenny Stolzenberg with her husband Lawrence

    And she did this through her graduation piece as a ceramicist at Westminster University, fashioning 70 pairs of “mis-matched” shoes as a homage to the victims of Auschwitz.

    She was inspired by Primo Levi’s description of the “changing of the shoes” when prisoners had to grab them, however ill-fitting.

    Her installation was so profoundly moving that museums all over the world wanted it.

    Now, her shoes can be seen in an exhibition of works of leading Jewish ceramicists at the Jewish Museum in Camden Town.

    Sadly, Jenny, who taught at Acland Burghley school in the 1970s, died recently at the age of 68 while the exhibition was being installed.

    Looking down from a wall at the museum is a poignant photograph of Jenny and these words: “I can create beauty out of the unspeakable because my work is a tribute. It is about paying homage to the memory of people whose lives were destroyed. The deed was ugly, but the victims were not.” 

    Her husband Lawrence, who lives in South End Green, Hampstead, visited the exhibition at its opening yesterday (Wednesday) with his family and told me: “It was such a moving experience to see the exhibition.”

    A remarkable woman, Jenny, taught English and drama at Acland Burghley and then retrained as a psychotherapist. She raised thousands of pounds for charity by running several marathons.

    Jenny’s shoes don’t detract from the other artists on display whose influence can be seen on succeeding generations of ceramicists including, Edmund de Waal, arguably the best known potter in Britain today.


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