Zoom Rockman – the young man behind the must-see exhibition of the summer

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Zoom Rockman – the young man behind the must-see exhibition of the summer

Lord Sugar, Dame Maureen Lipman and David Baddiel are among the stars on display at The Jewish Hall of Fame at JW3

Zoom Rockman with Amy Winehouse
Zoom Rockman with Amy Winehouse

It’s impossible to miss the bold banner from the road as JW3 announces an exciting interactive summer exhibition from award-winning cartoonist and paper puppet animator Zoom Rockman. At 22, Zoom has created a series of 10 fully interactive, life-size portraits of Jewish icons in a variety of mind-boggling scenarios. These and all the workings that brought them to life are on display at Zoom Rockman’s Jewish Hall of Fame.

Zoom has been drawing since he was little, fuelled by the creativity that runs deep in his family. Both parents are designers, his great grandparents were painters and his younger brother Ace was named after their great, great uncle, who was a famous smudge photographer in Soho.

Zoom’s comics

While working on his final piece at Central, William Galinsky, programming director at JW3, came to Zoom’s graduate show and invited him to showcase. “I decided to incorporate this chance meeting into the show’s concept with a comic strip – part of my 14th comic in 14 years.” A comical story involving some late-night cheese consumption (trust me, it makes sense) transports you into Zoom’s dreamscape featuring a Jewish hall of fame, showcasing 100 iconic Jewish faces hand-drawn to cartoon perfection. June Brown, who knew?

Tracy Ann Oberman

“I start with pencil and ink because I love the resistance of paper and then I colour in using an iPad as it gives more fluidity than pens. Bryan Cranston was a last-minute addition as he only recently found out his grandma was Jewish.”

After ‘falling through the portal’ (blame the cheese), you are met with 10 ‘automata portraits’ – moving mechanical art instillations of famous faces, all in unexpected roles narrated by their real voices, including Sacha Baron Cohen parting the Red Sea as Moses (naturally.)

Dame Maureen Lipman

The first encounter is with Dame Maureen Lipman, depicted as a fortunate teller with an accompanying comic strip to make sense of the madness. And for the superfans, yes, it mentions the ‘ology’. The weird and wonderful journey inside Zoom’s subconscious mind unfolds, taking us on a wild ride with characters spouting Yiddish galore, including Stephen Fry, Nigella Lawson and David Baddiel. Each portrait is hand-crafted using Zoom’s self-invented technique, a precise combination of illustrations and mechanics. Zoom says: “The work is an extension of my final piece at Central – I created the automata because I didn’t have enough hands to move all the different parts. Everyone I approached with my script storyboard was really supportive and happy to be involved, especially Stephen Fry who really hammed it up for his voiceover.”

Zoom with Lord Sugar

Lord Sugar running a bagel shop and firing Zoom for his inefficiency at taking a customer’s order is a sight to behold. “It was pretty demoralising working on it, as I was fired over and over! But truthfully, Lord Sugar approved the concept immediately and it was the first one I worked on, with the exact blueprints on show, calculating by the millisecond how the multiple face layers should be moving. I’m enjoying learning about facial anatomy and even using the Latin names for authenticity.”

The only standalone piece is Amy Winehouse as a life-sized wooden moving puppet, with singing vocals. “I wanted an iconic British Jew from the music industry and Amy was perfect. The puppet incorporates ‘sympathetic movement’ – when you’re not puppeteering it directly, it reacts to how you move it. It’s really cool to see it scaled up from something that was just sat on my desk.”

Zoom with David Baddiel

In his downtime Zoom really enjoys sci-fi and samurai films. “I recently saw Interstellar and was amazed at how scientifically advanced it was. My favourite film though is Ran, directed by Akira Kurosawa who was also a painter – he painted the scenes before making the film and I love that you can pause the film at any moment and it could be a movie poster.”

Every creative has their preferred medium for noting down ideas but Zoom says he is too much of a perfectionist to carry a notepad. “If I mess up the first page of a sketchpad, I know I won’t want to hold on to it. I just pull pieces of paper from behind my desk and work like that. It’s a bit of a chaotic mess, but I’ve finally got a system going, categorising my ideas.”

Zoom’s future is certainly colourful. He is currently working on projects with hand puppetry and film, and the aim is to take the current Jewish Hall of Fame on the road. “I’d love to do Edinburgh Fringe and the dream is to take it to the States, because it features so many American Jews, such as Larry David – a personal favourite.” A Blues man, Zoom says he would also love to work his puppetry into a music video at some point.

And yes, Zoom is his real name.

Zoom Rockman’s Jewish Hall of Fame is at JW3 until 3 September. Tickets are £6. jw3.org.uk/zoom


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: