Fairy Tale Art: Once upon a time

Jerusalem’s Mamilla Avenue plays host to a display of paintings and sculptures inspired by classic tales from around the world.

April 9, 2010 22:34
2 minute read.

3 harvesters 311. (photo credit: .)


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It is perhaps fitting that “Fairy Tales,” a new art exhibition, has selected Jerusalem – the most mythologized and written-about city in the world – to host it in the ideal surroundings of the picturesque and airy promenade of the Mamilla Mall.

“Fairy Tales” – newly opened in honor of Pessah, and running until late October – has transformed the pleasant Mamilla shopping arcade into an area of wonder and imagination for all ages. Walking through, it feels as if you are stepping from page to page of a well known, if somewhat diverse, book of myths and legends. It almost feels as if Mamilla was built to host this exhibition. On the day of my visit, groups of adults and children were crowding around each sculpture for a closer look, occasionally shrieking with delight, or at the very least discussing animatedly amongst themselves the fairy tales and stories had which shaped the landscape of their childhood and which were now right before their eyes.

It is a wonderful place for children, allowing them to experience and interact openly with familiar fairy tales, and even exposing them to new interpretations of these – the phrase “Happily Ever After” becomes a vision of an elderly yet contented couple with their pet dog, sitting on a bench, holding balloons – and also to introduce them to new legends and figures which they may not have yet encountered in life, such as the Greek gods Narcissus, Apollo and Daphne.

Impressively, the subject matter seeks to do more than merely retell a standard version of various familiar fairy tales: popular and well-known legends, from Sleeping Beauty to Peter Pan, sit alongside gods and heroes from Greek and Norse mythology, as well as figures from Jewish history and the Bible. The Golem of Prague, Rabbi Akiva’s chicken and dog and the man himself in a pensive and happy mood also make appearances, making this a more well-rounded and Israeli approach to what is an ideal exhibition for the heart of Jerusalem.

Upon asking Tzipi Vital, the curator of the exhibition, to show me her favourite exhibits, she seemed shocked: “They’re all my favourites, they’re all beautiful and important pieces in their own right, and I hope each viewer sees this in everything.”

The exhibition was produced by Vital, who worked to bring together renowned Israeli and international artists, such as Anne Lefevre, Sara Knoll, Nurit Schwartz, Yael Erlichman, Aviva Berger and Irit Lev, to name but a few, who she felt would convey and engage with the subject matter appropriately, urging them to enter the fairy world, and create works conveying the text of stories and legends. The resulting exhibition is a testimony to the diversity of the artists themselves: sculptures of bronze sit aside sculptures of stone and oil paintings. In order to make each piece accessible, on the side of each piece is a key quote, describing “in a nutshell” the story behind it.

“Fairy Tales” is open until late October, at the Mamilla Mall, Jerusalem. Admission free.

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