Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Shaw Gifts
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I come from Sydney Australia. Holocaust survivor parents who had a blue printing business. I attended a Jewish school in Sydney, Moriah College, and Habonim. Did my first degree in Art History at the Hebrew University, returned to Australia, worked in retail management did another degree in Master of Commerce. Married and came on Aliya in 1986, with one child and pregnant. Worked in various areas, found it hard to find employment started my own business in the field as I was looking for gifts and couldn’t find what I wanted, so decided to make my own. I had the business for about 10 years then we returned to Australia, where I worked in the Gift business for the National Trust. We decided to return to Israel during the 2nd Intifada.
On returning to Israel, I worked in the Hi-tech area: In telecom and solar energy. After a while, I decided to go back into the artistic field and ran the store at the Bible Lands Museum. I then set up a business consulting to Women in business, and after a while, I decided to take my own advice and set up the business again from scratch at the age of 52. The experience of working in Hi tech assisted and I am of course much more computer savvy now. And more successful.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I’m not really an artist I am more of an art director, I commission designs from artists and work with them to develop products. I work through artists. I do love creating beautiful and useful object to enhance Jewish living.
What is your specialty?
I work in various media, in textiles glass ceramics wood, I have T shirts and baby clothes and linens. The range of materials I work is as unusual.
How and where do you work?
I have a small factory, I employ 4 people in the factory where we cut and fabric, my next door neighbor prints for me and we sew and package and market.
What is the most indispensable item in your workshop?
My sewing machines and printers and heat press.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
Inspiration comes from the old and new world around me, from verses in the Bible from the Hebrew alphabet, from archaeology, from Judaism. From gift fairs I attend, from travel and museums and stores overseas and the internet of course.
Do you do bespoke work?
Yes we do, people sometimes come to me with a concept and I work with designers to translate the concepts into images and products.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have just completed a new range for Pesach with runners and new items for the table.
What is your favourite item in your current collection?
I love a vase we have that has newsprint silkscreen printed onto the ceramics.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
I have been in the field of developing products for a long time. I aim at a WOW and aha factor, products need to resonate. I would like people to feel they are taking home a part of Jerusalem with them.
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
The first piece I sold was a dishtowel with an image of a fig leaf with a verse on it that says, each one will sit under their fig tree.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
I have a very large number of products; I regard them as my children. I have found creativity and it has kept me going, in times of stress or grief. It is a constant. I can get into the flow, which keeps the outside world at bay.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
I want to be regarded as a leader in Judaica and gifts for the Jewish home. I want to extend my reach, and sell to as many people on as many platforms as possible. I love the idea of taking Judaica to the world.
Where can we find your work?
Photos: Barbara Shaw Gifts