It is a long way to the Archibald

March 6, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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A chance meeting at a Holocaust museum has resulted in a survivor being the subject of a portrait being entered for this year’s prestigious Archibald Prize.

Henri Korn and

Henri Korn and Thomas Delohery

Henri Korn, 85 has written two books about his eventful life and surviving the Holocaust –The Story of a Jewish Altar Boy and My Past is My Future: Searching for Identity.

Thomas Delohery, 43, artist and visual arts teacher hails from Country Clare, Ireland where he was raised a Catholic.

The two met at the Melbourne  Jewish Holocaust Centre in 2011 when Henri organised an exhibition of Holocaust paintings. Thomas, who has a deep interest in the Holocaust, entered a couple of pieces and one of them was used on a flyer to promote the show.

That was the start of a friendship and it’s obvious they have a high regard for each other. Henri helped Thomas with his successful application for permanent residency and Thomas has supplied the cover artwork for Henri’s recently completed third book.

Now Thomas has made Henri the subject of a portrait which he intends entering in this year’s Archibald Prize, held in Sydney.

“Thomas said I was his muse when I sat for him and I am terribly chuffed about it.  I have only seen copies of what the final images will be but my mug will be collated seven or eight times.

“I am anxious to see it” said Henri.

Henri regards himself as part of Generation S. He explained the S stood for superfluous but it is doubtful whether anyone who knows him would agree with that tag.

Thomas has exhibited in Canada, Germany and London and has a piece permanently on display at Yad Vashem called “What Do You Do For the Least of My Brothers?”   He explained its title is taken from the New Testament and is his way of having a “swipe” at the Catholic Church which, he says, did little to help the Jews of Europe during World War II.

It is possible that his collaboration with Henri will be his finest yet. He plans on sending the huge finished canvas (approx 2 meter x 1meter) to the framer very soon.

“I know it would not be due until mid year but didn’t want to have to rush to finish and compromise it.   I started about six months ago with the first drawing.

“Henri always has a lovely glint in his eye which I really wanted to capture” said Thomas.

The artwork features eight mixed media portraits of Henri, as he looks now and others imagined as he would have looked at different stages in his past, surrounded by about 50 other images.

“Someone I met at Yad Vashem told me that when a survivor closes their eyes, they are not just thinking about the past, they are there and I wanted my work to encapsulate that – of someone trapped between two worlds.” said the artist.

Thomas said he is always obsessed with the process, which then becomes part of a finished piece. Photographic images he had seen at Auschwitz haunted him and shaped his vision for this work.

If the portrait makes it to the final round, Henri is certain to come to Sydney, together with his good friend of course.   It‘s a “marriage” made in Melbourne.


One Response to “It is a long way to the Archibald”
  1. Tanya Serry says:

    Hi Thomas
    Huge thanks to you. Henri is my dad!

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