Gerda Rubinstein was born in Berlin in 1931 and moved to Amsterdam in 1933. After the was she briefly worked in a pottery and went to evening classes for life drawing; she was invited to work in the studio of Wessel Couzijn who encouraged her to apply for the sculpture classes at the Rijks Academie which she attended from 1949-51. In 1952 a scholarship enabled her to study at the Grande Chaumiere in Paris under Ossip Zadkine; she won a Prize Jeune Sculpture and travelled for a year before returning to Amsterdam where she got her first commission for a carving in stone for a school in ljmuiden that was unveiled in 1956. This was followed in 1958 by a bronze sculpture in the Ooster Park in Amsterdam.
In 1958 she came to London and settled in Blackheath with her husband and baby daughter. In 1967 Pat Gibberd saw her exhibition in Gallery 66.; she recommended her work to the Harlow Art Trust who commissioned her to make City for Bishopsfield which was sited in April 1971. Other works in Harlow, bought by the Trust, include Screen outside Purford Green Infant School, Baby at William Martin Primary School and Julia at Sewell Harris Close in the Stow. In addition to this she has undertaken several commissions for the Gibberd Garden in Harlow – a pair of Eagles for the gate posts, Lucinda and Tondo and a portrait of Sir Frederick which became two, one from life, and one done from memory back at her studio.
From 1967 until she had to retire she taught sculpture on two days and two evenings a week at the ILEA’s Adult Education Institutes in Catford and Grenwich. Her classes were run as open studios with no limit on age or requirement for previous experience or diploma standards. The students were offered the use of a model and various materials; they were encouraged to take an individual approach, but frequently worked together o the physical problems of casting large works and often travelled, outside the time of the classes, to exhibitions and events both in the UK and on the continent.
Times, materials, and techniques change. While many early works were carved and cast in firebrick, she no longer uses this method as the bricks have become expensive and the work is too dusty and laborious. Learning to weld bronze made her free to cut and change work but today’s safety rules have stopped her doing that in her studio. Bronze casting is now expensive and can only really be done for a commission; recently she enjoyed making two life-size bronze sculptures to celebrate the 100th and 300th anniversaries of two schools in London but is now concentrating on making works in resin, Barn Own is her latest.
Taken from Catalogue of Gerda Rubinstein Retrospective at Gibberd Gallery in 2006
Artists Website: http://www.gerdarubinstein.com
213x43x36 cm commissioned by the Trust for Bishopsfield sited 1971
The mould is carved out of kiln bricks, then cast up and welded together.
Part of it was stolen in 2003 and it was relocated in a courtyard on the site, where further damage has been sustained (see photos from 2017 L. Hilton)
Portrait Bust Sir Fredrick Gibberd
Gibberd Gallery, Civic Centre
Cast was acquired in 1979 by the trust. A cement version, modelled from the sitter is in the Gibberd Garden this bronze version was modelled from memory and chosen by Gibberd for the collection.
William Martin Infant School
Purchased by the Trust in 1992
85x35x22 cm The Playhouse, Town centre
Resin cast Sewell Harris Close,The Stow.
The bronze was cast from a ciment-fondu owned by John Graham. It was repaired in 2011, when backed into by a car and after an attempted theft from the Close 2012 Gerda kindly had a cast made from resin for this site and the bronze was moved indoors for security, to the Gallery and then to the Playhouse. The Artists final resin cast of Julia was exhibited in the Parndon Mill exhibition of her work in 2017, and was subsequently sold to a Harlow resident.
Gibberd Gallery Civic Centre
Screen was obtained by the Trust in 1999 and sited at Purford Green Infant School, it was relocated to Newhall, Project Space and is now in the Gallery.
There is a bronze study for a tower also in the Gallery, which is delicate.
There are works in the Gibberd Garden: Eagles (concrete),Mother & Son, concrete tondo relief of Fredrick reading and Pat weeding, casts of Sir Fredrick, and Lucinda. She has sold from her shows in Harlow to local residents.
see Friends Newsletters: Aug 2006 No 7 July 2009, August 2017.