29 September 2007

'Numbers' : The finale



Grab a drink, this may be a long one – but it is the finale.

Whilst shopping around for rusty tin ceiling tiles, I came across A very very old plank of wood. It had the green and gold peeling painted on it. Australia’s colours, I knew I had to somehow use it in the final piece of numbers.

Below is how I did that.

I collaged and aged a lot of pages with numbers all over the wood. For this panel represented the Labor party machinery. Sam was the Numbers man. He was the one they turned to when they needed not only the polling numbers but factional numbers relating to issues at the time.

This is a very big reason why the piece was called 'Numbers'.
Numbers - regarding the party machinery.
Numbers - relating to his horses and betting.
Numbers – relating to his business.

The 3 photo’s are of Sam whilst working with his political hat on.

This is Sam with the former Prime Minister Robert Hawke.
Sam is greeting him outside the Hakoah club, about which I referred to in the previous post.

The club became a social club with lots of Poker machines in it.

As such I found a vintage book with NSW Government laws and statutes and whilst there were many volumes available – I looked through some and decided to place the Gaming and betting Act page. I used it also as it related to part of Sam and “Hawkey’s” relationship.

Similarly, I placed this image on an aged book with the specific text relating to the laws pertaining to horse wagers. The background of the photo reminding me somewhat of hay.

Sam is pictured here with 2 former Premiers of New South Wales, Neville Wran and Bob Carr. The text relating to this speaks for itself.

I placed the rusty window object at the top and threaded a continuous piece of wire around it and the entire piece.

I wanted to symbolise that Sam was, at the time and integral part of the Labor Party machine – constantly moving, the inner workings of the political party are dynamic – hence I used an object that is used to attach enable windows to move up and down freely.
Without these attaching to window threads, a window will remain shut – hence the parallel to the party without Sam’s involvement, at that time.

A favourite photo of Robert’s, Sam is pictured here with some Indigenous Australians whilst he was the Chair of the Tourism Board.
A portfolio he chaired with huge success, this photo was taken in England whilst he was launching a campaign.

I had come across these very vintage brass pieces. To me they looked like boomerangs and despite the hefty price, I just had to use them here. Even the red tone it took on in its natural ageing process was remarkable as it is almost exactly the colours of the desert here.

The next image is when Sam received one of two of his Honours from the Queen. The brass trim at the top was provided by Kristen who knew I was desperate to find some of this. She so kindly bought me some and sent it over poste haste to use here.

Century Kid:

One of Sam’s horses.

A winner.

The amazingly rusted horse shoe I managed to get from the Fiszman blacksmith.

The image is placed on blue and white colours, the colours for Century Kid - the colours of Israeli flag. Attached to the horse shoe is the very vintage weight scale which I added not only to represent the weigh in that jockeys must have prior to a race but it tied this element and the blinker together, creating a flow for the eye. At least that was my intention.


Sam died at age 75.
Esther always took out the daily double when betting on races. Without fails she always chose horses 7 and 5.
Robert life path is a number 5.

Hence the vintage enamel house number 75 was added.
It took me a while but I got the correct number.
I will go to the ends of the earth to find the right element for a piece.

Sam is pictured at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The 'Kotel', is the last remaining wall of the Jewish Second Temple (516 BCE - 70 CE). For Jews the Western Wall (as it is also known) is the holiest location that is currently generally accessible to the Jewish people for prayer.

The prayer that I photo-shopped over the photo is the prayer that is used as a centerpiece of all morning and evening Jewish prayer services and echoes the monotheistic message of Judaism. It is considered the most important prayer in Judaism.

If one were to know that they were about to die – the first line of this prayer is what one would say – if there was no time for more. The first line is “Hear 'o Israel the L-rd is G-d the L-rd is one.”

It is placed in a Copper mesh pocket, taught to me by Nina. The reason for the pocket in both Sam and Esther photo’s is if family later wants to add bits of memorabilia.
The hardware between the photo of Sam and Esther was gifted to me by my mate Jen.
I used the text:
“Ani l’dodi, ve ledodi li’,
From the Song of Songs within the gold plated oval.
It means – 'I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me'.
Yes I know, air bubbles. Had I had more time I would have re-done it.

It is used in all Jewish wedding ceremonies, need I say more here.

The last element is this antique bottle.

Within the bottle is a copy of the NSW State Parliament Hansard paper.
It speaks for itself…

Hansard & Papers Legislative Assembly 9 April 2002 Full Day Hansard Transcript Item 21 of 56 Page: 1135
Death Of Mr Sam Fiszman
About this ItemSpeakers - Nori Ms Sandra Business - Condolence, Ministerial Statement

Ministerial Statement
Ms NORI (Port Jackson—Minister for Small Business, and Minister for Tourism) [3.24 p.m.]: I am prompted to make this ministerial statement by a very sad occurrence: the death of Sam Fiszman. Present in the gallery today are members of Sam's family, including Esther, his wife of 55 years, Robert, his son, Mia Price, his daughter, and Josh Price, his grandson. I also acknowledge Eddie Price, his son-in-law, and Tull, his grandson, who were unable to be present today. The condolences of the New South Wales Government and of this House go out to his family. Sam Fiszman's life was not only a great migrant success story but that of a great Australian.The next time any one of us feels that life has dealt them a bad hand, they should just think for a moment about Sam Fiszman. As a Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Poland Sam helped saved lives of Jewish orphans by leading them out of the hell of the Warsaw ghetto. His brave actions led to the Nazis murdering his mother and sister in an attempt to hunt him down. Towards the end he joined the Red Army and fought with that army and was decorated. Surviving the war he migrated to Australia with his young wife, a survivor of Auschwitz, and their baby. Rather than live his life with anger and bitterness, his life in his adopted homeland was one of tremendous generosity and goodwill.With a young family to support, just £3 to his name, and in a new country, Sam became a successful businessman. However, his contribution to his new country was tenfold what he received from it. He was a passionate and proud Australian. Sam gave to New South Wales his time, his energy, his intelligence and all the skills that had made him a successful businessman. A few of the organisations that were recipients of Sam's skills and hard work are the Bet Aleph Nominees, the William McKell Foundation, the Palestinian-Australian Education Program, the Darling Harbour Authority and the Australian Tourist Commission. Sam was both chair of the board of Tourism New South Wales and the inaugural chair of the New South Wales Major Events Board.This House would be aware of the importance of tourism and major events in creating jobs and bringing money into this State. One example of a major asset that Sam was actively involved in winning for New South Wales is the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the world's fourth largest sporting event. I am very pleased to announce that in recognition of and with gratitude for Sam Fiszman's contribution to tourism in New South Wales an award will be given in his name to the tourism trainee of the year. That award, which will have a scholarship component of $1,500, is only one of the legacies of Sam's life. His other legacies will continue to benefit those communities to which he dedicated so much of his life and the industries to which he contributed so much of his talents. Sam once said that Australia had given him everything. I can now add that Sam gave back even more. Sam will be greatly missed, and on behalf of the people of New South Wales I acknowledge his efforts.

Well ‘that’s all folks’.
That is the final presentation of ‘Numbers’ a rather monumental piece for me.

For me it was a piece that was a remarkable journey in so many ways – mostly expressed throughout my journaling of the piece which, in and of itself, was a huge but personally rewarding challenge.

Thankyou to all those artists mentioned who were kind enough to gift me with elements to place within the piece, thereby making ‘Numbers’ a truly unique and international effort.
Thankyou to Nina for having taught me so many techniques that enabled me to work the piece so well. Her ingenious methods and the ways she looks upon all things great and small have somehow affected the very ways about which I view things now. Nina, you know how much you mean to me. It is your honesty and high moral convictions that i admire most in you. Your genuine support for me has been unswerving and it is something I appreciate so very much.

Thankyou to Michael for inspiring me to reach beyond, to instil in me the confidence to express myself and my art in the way I feel is me. Your 'Zenification' when I was beyond exhausted was and is so appreciated. I too feel so very blessed to have you in my life.
Thankyou for being you.
Thankyou to all those who emailed me personally and who left such amazing and heartfelt comments time after time, post after post. You inspired me to push myself to document the process and my thoughts.
Thankyou to Tim Holtz without your wonderful products, 'Numbers' would never have looked so aged and appropriate. You are a genious when producing your brillaint products. Now all I need is for your to manufacture your scissors with a long long nose - pleeeeze!!!

Thankyou to all the 30 artists (those that I know of) who honoured and humbled me by linking "Numbers" to their blogs. What an amazing gesture! I will forever be grateful to you all.

Thankyou to my children for your understanding, your patience and never-ending unconditional love whilst a lot of the everyday things were left in abeyance over the last 3 months.

Thankyou to Kristen, who took a number of calls from me in the middle of the night here. Kristen, even though we have never met in person, you have become an amazing and reliable friend with whom I can share so much and can call upon at any time (thank goodness for Blackberrys). I am so grateful for your honesty and frienship.

But above all thankyou to Robert, Esther and Sam.

Robert – Pud for:
allowing me free reign to create,
understanding everything I did without me having to explain most of it,
above all for having the confidence in me to do such an important family heirloom for you and the Fiszman family.

Sam, for:
All your assistance along the way.
As a child I remember you fondly as a kind and generous man
As an adult I remember you seeking my assistance on a political matter not up for discussion here however an issue that revealed the strength and conviction of your beliefs in our continuity. I was honoured to help you back then and I am honoured that you helped me now.

Esther, for:
Being you – a pillar of the community. I sit here crying when I think of what you went through. This time last week we sat in the synagogue as Yom Kippur drew to a close. I came over to sit with you for the final 2 hours of the fast. When the Rabbi gave his final sermon and as he told the story of the many who were slaughtered for refusing to part with their ‘Tefillin’ as they entered the gates of Auschwitz, I noticed your subtle uncomfortable body movements at the mentioned of that place.
You Esther,
are my hero,
my shining example that one can overcome the darkest darkest of days and life’s experiences.

I kept hoping and praying that my artwork would be considered worthy by you and the inspiring story of your survival and that of Sam’s.

Thankyou, all three of you for allowing me to tell a small part of your inspirational story/s on your behalf. It was truly an honour and certainly a privilege beyond compare.

In closing ‘Numbers’ here is a message that was emailed to me yesterday by my beloved comrade, Pud.

My dearest Judy,
Well what a journey it’s been, and may I say the ride continues to grow exponentially as I now live every day with the wonder that you created.
Karma's a funny thing, outside the two of us I'm not sure if anybody knows just how this whole thing started, how long it took to come to fruition and now at it's end it is nothing short of phenomenal.
We've been mates since kindy, over 35 years of our lives, I could not have entrusted this, in hind sight, to anyone else.
How long did it take Esther to get the photos together, how long did it take me to decide to entrust you with them, if I would've trusted myself it would've been a mere black and white collage on a wall, instead of what it has become.
And what has it become?
Not only is it extraordinary in its originality, not only is it quality the likes of which I've never seen but it is simply the most moving and greatest tribute to the memory of my father and the life and times of my mother and my father.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but in regard to post-Holocaust Australian Jewish life, I'm unaware of any piece of art to its equal.
I learn more about it every day as I live with it and as I live with it the realisation comes to me that at some stage this is going to have to be shared with many others so its significance can be realised.
I know this to be true from the reactions of people who have seen it for the first time over the last 10 days; they range from tears to exhilaration from awe to amazement.
Please thank all your blog friends who took the time to comment so nicely and who also became part of this piece. We are overjoyed that they took such a great interest in our story.

On behalf of my family I can't thank you enough for not only the work but more importantly for the journey we went through together on it and for the everlasting memory that it will serve to create.
And most importantly, on this note this goes part of the way to the obligation that we share as children of Holocaust Survivors to bare witness for the atrocities committed against our people and to make sure that when they're gone their lives are never forgotten.
In thanking you again let me say only this,
I love you.
Robert S. (Pud) Fiszman



Julie H said...

Oh Judy in some ways the end of numbers is like losing a friend - I want more, and yet, you have completed the circle perfectly. How beautifully you acknowledge those who helped you, and how sweet Robert is in his words to you.

And again, the cup of tea is cold by my side ...

Is 'Our' man whose life story was left on the verge next?

From the bottom of my heart thank you for sharing both the art and the story ...

nina said...

well, i don't know what to say. please give my heartfelt love to robert and esther; and as for sam - sam is everywhere. he is even here, in the wind and in the trees, and in my heart as well. his beauty lives forever.
judy, thank you. i love you.
amazing. words can't say. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Kristen Robinson said...

Darling friend you know the words that are in my heart. This piece has moved me in ways that I would have never imagined. The beauty, honesty and tribute that flows through your work is beyond amazing. To the Fiszman family I offer my gratitude for allowing this amazing story to be shared. You are a treasure Judy a true treasure!


rochambeau said...

Thank you taking us all on this journey with you.
Ester's letter it beautiful, and sums your journey together up beautifully. What a treasure.
The most important thing in life is the loving connections we make with one another. The power of love is mysterious and has wondrous ways, bringing beautiful people into our lives. Isn't it an amazing that your have been a vessel to manifest "Numbers"? That you could have the honor to assist the Fizman's in sharing her story? Sharing it with such love and tenderness with all of us?
We are ALL children of God! When you lift off the ugly layers of a person, a beautiful child lies within. Each person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect! I am a big believer of that!

with love,
and respect to you Judy and the Fizman's.


Sharon said...

Again, I can only say thank you to let you know that I was here. I'm overwhelmed with your talent, the story that you share and the generosity of the Fitzman's. I will come again another day to start at the beginning again....

Lisa said...

You have beautifully illustrated the unique and important value of art in our culture by sharing a story that just could not be told the same way in another form. You have preserved the important messages of your father, of Esther, of Sam and of every other human life affected by the Holocaust. And we can touch and taste and smell and see each detail. Thank you for your vision, your perseverance, and your heart.


lindaharre said...

Oh Judy.....I sit here with tears in my eyes and don't really know what to say. Anything I write will be superfluous in light of the comments made above! You are a master at your craft and should be lauded for the creativity and energy expended on this project! I agree that this should be shared with many people.....reminding and reminding us again of the horror! I would love to see this piece in person, but feel that someday I will hear of it again:D

Cindy Dean said...

What a wonderful conclusion to this piece. We should be thanking Robert & Esther for allowing you to share the journey. I have learned so much from this...more than any text book could ever convey and I will never forget...

Leslie said...

I feel like my comments are so repetitious, yet my awe is sincere. Watching over your shoulder as you put together this powerful work has been an experience like no other. Thank you so much for sharing the journey with us, and thanks to the Fiszman family for allowing us to watch.

R2artstudio said...

Judy, I have to tell you how much I admire you as a person and an amazing artist. You have shown us all how powerful art can be, and I am so thankful you shared it all with us. This has been a very emotional story, and one I will never forget. And please thank the Fitzman family for letting us share their personal stories and pictures.
Judy you have not only accomplished something very few artists will ever do, but you have people all over the world that now know of your amazing talent. As much as I hate to see the this story end, I know there will be many more for you tell with your very special talent. Looking forward to your next adventure.

azirca said...

What a beautiful poignant end to such a heartfelt story.
Thank you Judy and to the Fiszman family for allowing us to share in this wonderful journey with you. I have never been so enthralled in an art piece as I have been with 'Numbers'. Not only in Sam and Ester's story, but in your ability to create and portray their heritage in such a manor.
You Judy are certainly a treasure and someone who I am proud to know albeit via the world of technology.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Once again I am at a loss for words. I am in awe of this wonderful masterpiece. Sad to see this beautiful journey come to an end, but the Fiszman Family sure found the perfect artist to entrust their family history to. I thank the Fiszman Family for their story and letting you share with us. I thank you for being the most creative and talented artist I know. My hat is off to you Judy!
I will always remember.

Jen Crossley said...

Oh Judy,
What an amazing journey you have taken us all through.You are an amazing artist and story teller I amire you so much.
You have made me open my eyes to what sam and Esther have endured in there lives,and I will never forget the in justice they and many like them have been through.A big thank you to the Fiszman family for allowing you to share this personal story with us all.

izabella said...

I'm speechless~ I'm in tears~ you are amazing~ this is museum quality my dear~ Is someone going to publish this!? Northlight?!

xo!! ~Bella

Ro Bruhn said...

The Grand Finale Judy. What a memorable creation, you've done Australia proud, this should tour the galleries of the world. Thank you Judy, Robert, Esther and Sam for allowing us to be a part of this incredible journey. I'm sure we're all richer in our knowledge of that catastrophic event.
I'm so glad I met you, if ever so briefly in Fremantle, and so look forward to meeting you again next year.
Thanks again for sharing this event.

gaby said...

Yes, Judy, never again. We need peace in our world. This final parts of numbers are stunning, like all pannels. Congratulations! Only a higher spirit like you have, could do something so poetic of a sad event of mens history. I'm glad that I could see this beautiful work!

thealteredpage said...

Many thanks to you and to the Fiszman family for sharing this incredibly personal and inspiring story with all of us. It has been eye opening to see the depth of meaning that artwork can represent and the level of emotion that it can reach. I look forward to seeing where your journey takes you next. Seth

Emmcee .... Marie C said...

An amazing sequence both in historic and artistic terms Judy. You have obviously poured your heart and soul into your work, and the fabulous result is that you have touched so many others in a way which wouldn't have been possible without your talent for telling the story in a such a visually powerful way .... Thanks to both yourself and the Fiszman family for sharing the journey with us.

Tricia Scott said...

judy, what a wonderful journey you have shared with us all. thank you for opening my eyes in so many ways. i truly don't even have words to express how deeply i am moved by the whole experience.
you are just a special special soul.

Megan said...

A phenomenal story brought to life so wonderfully by you. A true journey we were all so generously allowed to share in.

Megan said...

Amazing Judy. What an incredible piece you have created for Esther.

I just love the clever way you tie everything in together....you are just brilliant!

Megan xx

artfulzebra said...

I came to your blog, and to Numbers, just as you were nearly finishing but it has been such a wonderful discovery and even though I don't know you or Robert's family, I feel that through this amazing piece of artwork I do know something of you. Thank you for sharing this journey, your sublime writing, descriptions and fabulous photos are just wonderful. I feel like I'm just repeating my previous comments but you have truly had an inspirational effect on me and my approach to my artwork. I, like so many others, feel blessed and moved by Numbers. Thank you.

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

Judy... I have been meaning to write for QUITE sometime.

I certainly HOPE we have the chance to meet face to face one day.. soon! I am a huge fan of your work and you have been so very sweet to stop by my blog and leave the loveliest comments that always make me smile.

I am so VERY VERY sorry for your loss.. my deepest condolences. What a BEAUTIFUL expression of thoughts and words.


Kim Veldt said...

Judy - I rarely comment but I have to add my admiration for your work here too. Your history , your passion , your knowledge and background all combine to create some of the most moving art I've ever seen. It underlines the true meaning of art from the heart -it's tremendously powerful , and brings tears and an ache in my throat when I come. I'm not just awed by your talents - I love the way you've been able to use them. It's a gift of respect and love to those that have passed , and those that remain. Thank you for sharing all of the processes you follow , and helping me to understand why you choose as you do.

artgirly said...

Bravo! I am thinking this is book material. You have everything pretty much documented in your blog. How are you feeling now that its over? When I finish a long deeply personal piece I feel relieved but sad and drained. Its been a big part of your life for some time now. What an accomplishment...what a journey. Bravo Judy!

Jan Adams said...

Dear Judy
I have only just caught up with Numbers and am totally in awe. The thought put into every element, the passion and the love that shines through, the construction of the piece, the artistry - superb! Once again I am touched by what you do. While I was amazed by your 'Elephants' piece, with this I am truly awestruck. Sharing the story and the process is a gift you give to us all. You inspire me. The words congratulations and well done are hardly enough...

Deb L said...

Thank you for allowing us the priviledge of following you in this wonderful journey of the spirit... I will never forget their story. xox Deb

Karen Cole said...

I'm not sure what else I could add here, Judy. Congrats on your incredible accomplishment!!!!

What's next on the drawing board?????

jacky said...

thank you Judy, Sam, Esther, Robert and the Fiszman family for sharing this wonderful journey with us all. what a wonderful art heritage you have created for generations to come. Judy you are just amazing, not only for the art you have created but explaining all the meanings to us.

shirleymcc said...

You are an amazing artist and your heart shines through in this work. Thanks so much for taking us with you on this amazing journey.

Cre8Tiva said...

amen my friend...blessings, rebecca

Monique said...

Thank you for this amazing journey.Thanks to the Fiszman family for sharing their story.I have been in awe,learning about both history and art and trying to grasp the emotions in details you have put in your work. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Judy, there is magic in this work.

Your art leaves me speechless, how you are able to channel the energy of this family history into these pieces. It is true alchemy and you have breathed life into these objects in creating this work.
There is something that will stay with everyone who sees this piece. Such a gift...

I look forward to continuing to discover everything you do (if only I could watch how you do it! ;), such inspiration and magic. Thank you.

Lisa Mitchell (lisamitch@telefonica.net)
Barcelona, Spain

craftyhala said...

It's so fun to look at what you've made and to know that it isn't just pictures on stuff. You have so much thought into each piece of paper and metal, just all of it. it's amazing to me.
Now I look forward to what you can show us next.

Night Owl Designs said...

Wow, what an amazing journey! Have enoyed each and every post and photo. Congrats! :-)

belvedere beads said...

haunting, chilling, beautiful

Judy Wise said...

profound admiration, gratitude and love for your magnificent contribution to humankind.

bockel24 said...

This subject needs great artwork to be captured, and you´ve coped with this challenge in an amazing way.

She Who Flies said...

I am in awe of your commitment to this project, of all the love, humanity and soul you shared here throughout your process and of your stunning achievement!!! I feel honored to have had the chance to journey with you a bit, as an observer and keen admirer. Thank you!

Debbi Baker said...

Hi Judy - I haven't commented on this post yet because I have not been sure what I could possibly say to express my total fascination and admiration for your creative abilities and SOUL. This is really an incredible piece of art and it must be a wonderful feeling knowing you have been able to express so much for this wonderful family (whom we all now feel we know a little). I have been back and read your posts so many times - I love looking at the details of your work and are so grateful that you included so many beautiful close-up photos! Thank you on so many levels.

Pilar said...

Thank you for sharing the beauty of love, life, and family as show through the amazing lives of the Fitzmans. Once again, I am blown away with your attention to detail, finding the perfect bits to represent elements of experience. These three pannels are living art and we are all so blessed to have witnessed their creation.

Gisele said...

Well Judy, you finally made it to the end....thank you for sharing this wonderful adventure with us all & a big thank you also to Robert & Esther for allowing this project to be shared. I was amazed at the size of the whole completed panels especially when photographed with Robert admiring them on the floor, the whole has been beautifully & synbolically represented throughout....I don't know what else to say, it's just fabulous! Thank you again.