Jewish Renaissance Magazine Article 2003

Article from Jewish Renaissance magazine by Janet Levin Winter 2003

Here is the text from an article from Jewish Renaissance magazine, Winter 2003:

Westacres, in the Newton Mearns district of Glasgow, is as much art gallery as residential home. This is thanks to one of its oldest and brightest residents, Hannah Frank, whose sculptures enliven reception areas and lounges and whose black and white prints embellish the walls with grace and elegance and the flowing curves of Art Nouveau.

Hannah’s sharp mind and wry sense of humour are remarkable for a 95 year old. She talks to us about her early life in South Portland Street, opposite the shul; of her determination to be an artist from earliest childhood; of paying her way through art school by working in her father’s photographic shop at 67 Saltmarket.

While she studied art in the evenings, Hannah studied at Glasgow University. She published poems as well as drawings in the university magazine, and tells us that she achieved her ambition of appearing in every issue. Most of her drawings, painstakingly created with pen and ink, were inspired by poetry, which she loved. “I would bore my brothers every week at our Shabbat dinner by reading from Job and the Psalms. These are the ones that inspired me – but I wasn’t a bit religious.”

After obtaining a degree Hannah went to Jordanhill teacher training college. She taught for several years and loved it. “When I asked the children what they wanted to do at the end of the day and one of them said ‘read us a poem’, then I thought I had suceeded.”

It was on a Jewish student ramble in 1939 that Hannah met her husband to be. “I was just looking in one of my diaries,” she told us. “It said ‘Two new people turned up, Lionel Levy who was a gentleman and his friend who was a pain in the neck.’ I don’t remember who the friend was – it’s just as well. Lionel took me home and what he was most impressed with was the front door. He stayed up a stair” (tenement).

Lionel and Hannah were happily married for 63 years and stayed together even when they moved to Westacres, until Lionel died less than a year ago.

Hannah went to Art School to improve her knowledge of the human figure and help her drawing “and it seemed natural to do sculpture”. Encouraged by Benno Schotz, this became her preferred medium. Her sculptures are mostly figure studies, in plaster, terracotta, or bronze, and all on a fairly small scale. Along with her drawings, they have been exhibbited at the Royal Scottish Institute, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Hannah’s favourite is the bust of her father, and that stays with her in her own room at Westacres.