Exceptional for its size and precious material, this Torah crown is a rare survival of 18th-century Italian silver and a testimony to the artistic virtuosity of goldsmithing in Venice. In synagogues the scroll of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, is often decorated with a set of vestments and silver ornaments including a crown or finials, and a shield. The crown augments the Torah’s status as an object associated with royalty and speaks to the centrality of the Torah in Jewish life. The motifs depicted include ritual references such as priestly garments, a miniature temple, a menorah, and the Tablets of the Law, the latter engraved in Hebrew with the Ten Commandments. Such rich embellishment is indicative of the wealth and influential status of the Jewish congregation in the Venetian city state. The maker, Andrea Zambelli, is known to have made a wide range of ritual Judaica as well as religious silver for the local churches. A later inscription in Hebrew documents that this “crown of glory, and diadem of beauty” [Isaiah 28:5], was given by the philanthropist and president of the Jewish community in Padua, Gabriel Trieste, to his congregation in the mid-19th century. (The MET)
What are the major themes you pursue in your work? I like distorting figures and faces to create weird, wonky outsider characters. Usually the works are a mixture of personal experiences juxtaposed with popular cultural references to music, sci-fi and horror films and comics. There isn’t a big game plan though; most of my works are ‘happy accidents’ that take a life of their own.
I was never keen on the pretension of art school where you have to justify everything you did with some deep philosophical concept. I think that you should use your guts, heart and instincts as well as your head when creating work. I think Francis Bacon put it rather eloquently by saying, ’I feel ever so strongly that an artist must be nourished by his passions and his despairs.’ I love sketching, but in the end I always go back to paint. It’s the textures, strong colours, layers, and quickly executed lines that are essential to what I do.
Barbara Baran, Dianthus #135, 2003, pigment print, 48.2 x 32.8 cm, V&A Museum, London. Source
In 2004, the Royal Horticultural Society - ooerrr - commissioned Barbara and Zafer Baran to create a series of postage stamps featuring digitally-scanned flowers and plants. Pretty fancy, I think you’ll agree.