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Lifestyle: Focus on Stepney in shadow of war

PUBLISHED: 15:00 04 December 2013

Rose L. Henriques, Next Day, Watney St., Commercial Rd, 1941. Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives  © the artist's estate

Rose L. Henriques, Next Day, Watney St., Commercial Rd, 1941. Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives © the artist's estate

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Art collections are always prized possessions but there is an added rareness when the stories depicted give a feel of life during the war.

Rose L. Henriques, Dual Purpose, Fairclough Street E.W.S.,Tilbury Behind, 1940. Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives  © the artist's estateRose L. Henriques, Dual Purpose, Fairclough Street E.W.S.,Tilbury Behind, 1940. Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives © the artist's estate

The latest exhibition at the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, Bancroft Road, is no exception.

The artwork by Jewish philanthropist Rose Henriques focuses on the daily lives of ordinary people and the everyday landscapes covering the period from 1937 to 1954.

Rose was born in 1889 in Stoke Newington but for much of her life, lived and worked in Stepney.

Rose and her husband, Sir Basil, founded the Oxford and St George Club, in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, in 1914 and went on to develop social welfare for the poor, such as youth clubs and washrooms which were open to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Art researcher Sara Ayad was asked by the council to support the exhibition and it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.

She said: “I had already begun some independent research into Rose Henriques when I was contacted to research for this exhibition, so I was delighted to be involved.

“It has also meant a lot personally as for many years I lived a street away from the Henriques’ Bernhard Baron Settlement and passed it almost daily, always intrigued by its handsome red brick façade.

“Rose painted many of the scenes from the rooftop of this building, so the places I was researching I knew particularly well, places very close to my heart. It is a very exciting opportunity to show a small selection of these works by this now little-known East End artist, the majority of which have not been seen since 1947.”

Most of Rose’s paintings appeared in a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in June 1947 – a show of some 162 Stepney scenes, and another six sketches made during her time as a Jewish relief worker in Germany.

The exhibition, which runs until March 6, has received frames from the Imperial War Museum and the use of additional contextual images by Ian Berry, the Jewish Museum and the Museum of London.

For more information visit www.ideastore.co.uk/local-history.

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