Lovelock Art: painted padlocks go on display at JW3 to show support for the hostages

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Lovelock Art: painted padlocks go on display at JW3 to show support for the hostages

More than 50 artists from across the world have created emotive visual messages

Louisa Walters is Features Editor at the Jewish News and specialises in food and travel writing

Tarra Rosenbaum and Sandra Shashou
Tarra Rosenbaum and Sandra Shashou

When Marcel Knobil devised the Lovelock Hostage Bridge at JW3 back it was with the intention to display our love and solidarity for the hostages.

Several months on, with so many still held captive, Marcel has expanded on the initiative by asking artists to decorate padlocks. “I felt that a display of creatively customised padlocks facing the padlocks inscribed with hostages’ names would re-invigorate awareness of, and concern for, the plight of the hostages,” he says.

More than 50 artists from all over the world – not all them Jewish – came forward to participate, showing “imagination, generosity, courage and care.” Beautifully decorated padlocks from Holland, Israel, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Venezuela, the US and the UK go on display at JW3 from today until 20 June.

“Much of the world appears to be silent about the tormenting and unimaginable conditions over 100 innocent hostages are suffering in Gaza,” says Marcel. “The remarkable and unusual padlocks designed by these talented artists from all over the world will help re-awaken people to the captives’ pain, and raise funds for the vital work of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.”

Kimberley Gundle

Lovelock Hostage Bridge has become the UK’s monument in support of the hostages. Originally populated with padlocks inscribed with the names of hostages, it is now crammed with thousands of padlocks that have been added by sympathisers.

Raymond Simonson, Chief Executive of JW3, says: “JW3 is proud to be hosting Lovelock Art, at a time when we need to continue to remember the hostages. This powerful initiative will continue to use arts and culture to drive important conversations now than ever.”

Artist Abigail Schama says: “The incarceration of the innocent hostages and deaths of innocent civilians in Israel and Gaza is a tragedy which disturbs me on a daily basis. I was keen to convey how beautiful and delicate beings are being cruelly held captive. The padlocks are a really imaginative way to provide a platform for artists around the world to show how we feel and simultaneously raise funds for an important charity.”

Abigail Schama

London-based jeweller Tarra Rosenbaum is known for incorporating vitreous enamel in her designs but she used cold enamel when decorating her padlock because she “didn’t know how the metal would respond to the intense heat of the kiln that is used for vitreous enamel. My lovelock has two distinct sides to express the yin and yang in all of us. These are complementary (rather than opposing) forces that intertwine to form a dynamic system in which the whole is stronger than the parts. ‘Yin’ is represented by the translucent pastel flowing design with a lavender crystal in the centre, and ‘Yang’ is represented by the brightly-coloured stacked triangles (the strongest shape) in opaque colours that spiral around a piece of charcoal.  The key is decorated to bring the two sides together.

“This two-sided design also represents the men, women, boys and girls who have been held hostage in Gaza. The charcoal at the centre of the triangles represents carbon, of which we are all made, and the strength in all of us.”

Karen Lynn

Tarra says she hope that her lock will encourage people to feel a sense of hope and strength, and use those things to move forward with fluidity and grace in the face of obstacles. “It is a reminder that at our core we hold the key to unlock the strength we need to withstand our pain and suffering. The bridge is a beautiful symbol of love. I believe love can heal both ourselves and one another.  As we open our hearts, we may heal ourselves and our world.”

Sandra Shashou, who was born in Brazil but now lives in Primrose Hill, creates artworks using vintage and antique porcelain teaware. She sources the porcelain and repurposes fine bone china as her sculpting medium. “I have had a formal art education specialising in painting. Although my practice has shifted to sculpture, my background in painting remains the foundation of my work today, allowing me to transfer my handling of colour into my sculptures.”

Sandra’s striking burgundy padlock is a representation of her series of sculptures titled Broken. “I have used Burgundy Royal Stuart Stephenson scalloped teacups and saucers, as well as a single Burgundy Royal Doulton porcelain rose. The breaking and reassembly of the tea cups and saucers symbolises themes of destruction and reconstruction, resonating deeply with the events of October 7. This date reflects the harrowing experiences of the hostages and the attempted destruction of Israel by Hamas, plus the actions of Hamas aimed at breaking the spirit of the Israeli people. However, Israel has demonstrated immense courage and resilience in rebuilding after such devastation, embodying a powerful narrative of overcoming adversity and restoring hope. The Burgundy Rose, which is purposely a little too large for the padlock, symbolises immense love and life for Israel.”

Davina Jackson

Sandra hopes that her version of the padlock will make viewers feel that “although Israel was vulnerable and brutally attacked, it will be peaceful and beautiful again. For me, Lovelock Bridge represents the gathering and pulling together of the Jewish community. This is where our strength lies. With the power of art, we commemorate and support the rebuilding of the lives of our very much-loved people in Israel.”

Pamela Crystal, co-chairman of The British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel (BFAMI) says: “Art is such a powerful medium, as evidenced by these padlocks, which express sympathy, protest, care and distress evocatively and creatively.”

The first 54 people (the equivalent to the number of padlocks displayed) to donate a minimum of £150 to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum will each receive a padlock.

Visit to see the padlocks and donate

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