Home as an art gallery

You can employ your own talents if you’ve got the eye – and time.

Interior design 370 (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Interior design 370
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
When your home is over 30 years old and you want a quick fix to make it look more up to date, you could try doing what Doron Alkalay of Kfar Saba did – fill it with the most up-to-date and aesthetic works of art you can find. It helps if, as he did, you suddenly discover, quite out of the blue, that you have a talent for sculpture.
Alkalay, an army veteran who has held a number of business and executive positions, had never produced any art in his life. With his two children grown up and only him and his wife left in the modest, four-room apartment they acquired in 1981, one day he decided to take two years off work and rent a studio in nearby Neveh Yamin.
“I’m completely self-taught,” he says. He began to create metal and wood sculptures, gradually acquiring all the necessary tools. He shut himself off from the competitive business world which was all he had known until then, and the creative urge took over.
His wife, a technician at a private clinic, encouraged him, and gradually he produced an impressive body of work, which is now displayed all over the apartment.
“I don’t know where my ideas come from,” says the 50-plus Alkalay, who once co-owned a small events hall in Kfar Saba and later ran a chain of up-market food stores situated in gas stations. He does acknowledge, however, that the two major influences on his work are Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti, and he has even produced a replica of the latter’s famous Walking Man, which he keeps in the room he uses as an office.
But for the most part the ideas are original, and the pieces are very pleasing to the eye. Some are purely abstract and others depict recognizable objects like musical instruments and even the human body. Others seem to be a combination of these two elements.
SINCE ACQUIRING the apartment in a pastoral area near the entrance to Kfar Saba, they’ve made a few structural alterations, adding a step up to the living room and reducing the large entrance to enlarge the bathroom, but for the most part it’s the way it was in 1981. It still has the original brick walls, considered the height of chic back in the Eighties.
The lounge wall is built with asymmetrical, off-white stones, while the bedroom wall is constructed with layers of slate-like colored stone. Both make an ideal background for displaying his work.
Before he had sculptures to decorate his home the look was more minimalistic, he explains. They certainly add a new dimension of warmth to what would otherwise be a cold look.
Although being an artist is new to him, he was always good with his hands and made much of the furniture in the apartment, particularly all the small tables and sideboards, some of them topped with marble pieces left over from re-doing the floor about 15 years ago.
At the same time the lounge and kitchen floors were being replaced with marble, he put wood laminate floors in all the bedrooms, which also help to modernize the look of the apartment.
He is also very proud of the bathroom, which he built himself, surrounding the large tub with wood covered in marble, with a mosaic lining.
He is now considering selling some of his creations, but says he isn’t in any hurry as he finds it difficult to part with them.
He feels it’s important to get feedback about his work and gets a great deal of satisfaction when people admire his art and the home he created with his own hands.
It’s not a home décor that would be easy to emulate. You have to be born with enormous creative talent, determination and belief in yourself, even if that talent lay dormant for over 40 years.
After the two-year interlude, Alkalay went back to work, this time as head of logistics in a petrol company. But he maintains a studio in a nearby kibbutz and every spare moment is spent there, working with stone, wood and metal to bring his visions to reality.
Do you feel you own one of Israel’s most beautiful homes? Please email: gloriadeutsch@gmail.com