These works came out of the blurred boundaries between my early memories as the child of refugees, and the collective memory of the family. I tried to link the gaps due to separation, dispossession, deportation and death.
My mother Helga Michie escaped to England on the last kindertransport from Vienna, leaving her twin-sister Ilse Aichinger and other members of the family back in Austria. Some of the family were deported to Minsk and murdered.
I chose the shadowy figure of Dzadzu, my great, great grandfather, to explore, and perhaps to organise, the fragments of memory.
oil on canvas 65x55cm The staircase I glimpsed in a ruined building in Tel Aviv is fused with the one I played on in a London boarding-house, and that of the family flat in Vienna before the war, which I visited amid the ruins of the city in 1948. It also reminded me of watching filming on the set of 'The Third Man,' perched on a stool.
pen & ink sketch 8x14cm The stairs become a personified image, a linking character.
mixed media & collage 38x37cm An image of the uncertainty of boundaries, partly arising from a short story, 'Wo ich Wonne' [Where I live] by my mother's twin, Ilse Aichinger.
oil & collage on canvas 30x30cm The dog, an image derived from Tarkovsky, seems to be a link between different levels of consciousness, with suggestions of a transformative power.
mixed media & collage 65x22cm The dog travels through a landscape as undefined as the links between memories.
mixed media & collage on paper 110x71 cm The dog seems to be racing back through time as if it might lead to what is hidden.
mixed media on paper 59x21cm The dogs are transformed and transformative.
collage 30x42cm The torn bits of paper are like scraps of letters or memories which are difficult to piece together.
mixed media on paper 59x81cm My great-grandfather Jacob, who died just before the war. I tried to pull him away from his photograph to use his less-formed image to shape his father Dzadzu.
collage 30x42cm Two of Jacob's children appear in a photograph taken before the war by my great aunt Klara. Both children were deported and murdered, along with their mother.
collage 21x30cm Though Jacob died before the war, the torn letter seems to represent the frailty of communication between Austria and England during the war. On these scraps you could write all of the 25 words allowed on a Red Cross telegram.
transfer image on studio cement floor 21x30cm The image of Jacob on the studio floor, a chance effect from spray-mounting, seems to indicate the way memory pales as one tries to link with figures of earlier generations.
ink & paint on paper, 21x30cm Postcards of Emperor Franz Joseph fell out of family letters as I sorted them. He lived at the same time as Jacob and also died before the war. I combined the image of Franz Joseph with that of Jacob in his Austrian army uniform.
in the Schwarzenberg Garden, Vienna. digital image & collage 42x29cm Based on the negative of a photograph taken from my grandmother's window in Vienna. Augustine, a legendary figure from medieval times, wanders into the frame much as Dzadu wandered into central Europe from the Caucasus.
collage 61x40cm As one of the characters in the drama
collage 30x21cm The image is bright in the dark, but only the outline is discernible.
collage 45x64cm The images of the staircase and Franz Joseph combine.
collage 58x42cm The stairwoman figure, in sketch, reverse and silhouette.
mixed media &collage 29x42cm I was trying to clothe an image of Dzadzu, about whom so few details are known, in the hope that it would lead me closer to him.
collage 25x29cm I am left with not even the silhouette of features, but the empty coat, made up of mostly discarded elements of my search in several hidden layers, as Dzadzu remains hidden.