We are pleased to announce that we have recently added the work ‘Ahlbeck 1932’ (2006) by Leeds alumna, artist and academic Judith Tucker to the University of Leeds Art Collection.
Tucker was born in Bangor, Wales in 1960. She completed an MA in Fine Arts (1997–98) and a PhD in Fine Arts at the University of Leeds (1999–2002), after having completed a BA in Fine Arts at the Ruskin School of Art, St Anne’s College, Oxford, (1978–81). Tucker has since gone on to exhibit her work across the UK and internationally, including showing work in the First Biennial Sino-British Contemporary Art Exhibition in China.
Her work explores the meeting of social history, personal memory and geography; it investigates their relationship through drawing, painting and writing. The newly acquired piece ‘Ahlbeck 1932’ (2006), was made during Tucker’s time as Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Leeds, forming part of an extended series called Resort.
Creating a mixture of drawing and paintings of different sizes, she worked from a personal source: family photographs of a moment in 1932 when her Jewish grandmother and mother enjoyed the seaside on the North coast of Germany, months before the National Socialist regime banished Jewish visitors from such spaces.
‘The choice of locations for this series of work was, in a way, not mine but my German Jewish grandmothers’, as using my grandmother’s interwar holiday snaps as stimuli I made fieldwork visits to the same places.’Judith Tucker.
Tucker visited Ahlbeck to draw in the formerly East German resort where she noticed the hooded Strandkorb beach chairs that were visible in her family photos were still in use. Tucker’s work highlights the concept of ‘postmemory’ formulated by Marianne Hirsch, which refers to the affect that photographs of those who have lived through trauma can have on the generations born elsewhere to the displaced survivors and refugees.
Talking about ‘Ahlbeck 1932’, Tucker fondly describes ‘there is something touching about the way my mother and grandmother are sitting together, my grandfather’s shoes and the space where he must have been sitting.’
Her drawings seek to touch on the uncanniness of places once associated with freedom and pleasure that now carry a heavy burden of unspoken historical trauma.
The work was on display in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery in 2020 as part of ‘Lessons In the Studio: Studio in the Seminar’, an anniversary exhibition marking 70 years of The School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. The exhibition brought together the art and the ideas of many artists, thinkers and students who have shaped and expanded the School over seven decades. It is fitting that ‘Ahlbeck 1932’ is now permanently part of the University of Leeds Art Collection for future generations to enjoy and learn from.