Near-death experience inspires artist’s Golem tale

Ash Fitzgerald is one of two British-Jewish artists selected to exhibit their work at Faith and Form, currently showing at the Anne Frank Centre in New York, writes Fiona Leckerman.

The 49-year-old from East Dulwich and Leeds-based artist Gillian Singer, who are both members of the Jewish Art Salon, created pieces which reflect the themes of anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination.

Fitzgerald’s work, Passing Through (A Golems Journey), reflects the idea of the wandering Jew and was inspired by a near-death experience.

Passing Through (A Golem's Journey) by Ash Fitzgerald

Passing Through (A Golem’s Journey) by Ash Fitzgerald

He explains: “It all emanates from a near death experience I had 20 years ago. I was struck down with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which is a severe viral infection – a creeping, silent illness that is debilitating. I was in hospital for almost five months.”

Determined that his illness “had to mean something,” Fitzgerald began to identify with the Golem, a creature from Jewish folklore and started expressing this through his art.

“He is a servant, an anti -hero, a wandering Jew – and I identify myself with that.”

He continues: “The Golem is found in Jewish mysticism and my influences come from my maternal grandmother, who told me that you always take your Judaism with you. Ever since then I have carried it with me, as a spiritual guidance.”

Produced a year ago, the idea for Passing Through (A Golems Journey) came to the artist while studying an MA at City and Guilds of London Art School.

He says: “Straight away the Golem appeared, manifesting everything, from death to life. The whole idea was to create something out of nothing.”

Fitzgerald’s work, which uses old fashioned dip-pens acrylic and oil, will be on display at the Anne Frank Centre until the end of March. For more details about the exhibition, visit http://annefrank.com/faithandform/