Here at St John’s Waterloo, we have two murals by the German Jewish refugee artist Hans Feibusch who fled Nazi Germany in 1933, came to London and ended up painting more murals for the Church of England than any other artist in the Church’s history. (Image of artist, with thanks to http://hansfeibusch.blogspot.com).
A large Crucifixion dominates our east wall and below it, directly behind the high altar, is a smaller Adoration of the Shepherds.
St John’s was hit by a firebomb in December 1940. The roof of the nave and the east window were destroyed. When the church was rebuilt in 1950-51 as the official church of the Festival of Britain, the architect Thomas Ford decided not to replace the east window but to commission murals from Hans Feibusch instead. By the time of the Waterloo commission, Feibusch had already undertaken a great deal of work for the Church of England in the Diocese of Chichester, and his reputation was well established.
We’re raising money for the urgent conservation of our Feibusch murals before it’s too late. The larger one, the Crucifixion, is in danger of flaking onto the floor. We have conservators on stand-by but we need the funds to pay them. These paintings gave hope for a brighter future in 1951. All our futures would be diminished by their loss.
We have already raised more than £20,000 thanks to grants from the Heritage of London Trust, the Kirsch Foundation and many private individuals but we need another £37,000. Please join our growing family of Feibusch fans by donating here.
We’re also working with others to raise the artist’s profile. We believe that the contribution Feibusch and other, mostly Jewish, refugee artists made to post-war Britain deserves to be more widely known.
If you'd like a tour of some of the many other murals Feibusch painted in churches all over London and the South East, here is art historian Emma Rose Barber's talk, Finding Feibusch, delivered live online for us in November 2020.
On 17th March, we’re hosting a one-day symposium at St John’s. “A Jewish Jesus: Art and Faith in the Shadow of World War Two” will take Feibusch as its starting point to look at some of the many other Jewish refugee artists who worked for the Church or used Christian iconography in the post-war period. If you’d like to be informed when we publish the full programme for this event and release tickets, please register by clicking here.
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