Hampstead sculptor and Truman Brewery matriarch showcases new work in latest exhibition

Ahuva Zeloof exhibtion, Imperfection, is on at DIBA Art London from August 20

Ahuva Zeloof exhibtion, Imperfection, is on at DIBA Art London from August 20 - Credit: Archant

Hampstead sculptor and Truman Brewery matriarch Ahuva Zeloof, showcases new work made during lockdown in her third exhibition, Imperfection.

Fractured is one of the sculptures Ahuva made in lockdown.

Fractured is one of the sculptures Ahuva made in lockdown. - Credit: Archant

For Ahuva Zeloof, grandmother to 14 grandchildren and widow of 13 years, lockdown was a particularly solitary time, stripped of the family her days were usually filled with.

Although her grandchildren would come into her garden to visit her, the Hampstead-based sculptor and matriarch of the Zeloof family, which founded the Truman Brewery arts centre in Brick Lane, says it wasn’t the same. “They give me strength and purpose, and a lot of inspiration,” she says. “When you grow up, you see things through adult eyes, however, when I’m with them, they point things out which I hadn’t seen.”

With time on her hands, Iraqi-born Ahuva focussed on her art, creating five new pieces of work in two and a half months. “It gave me an outlet,” she says. “I was doing something productive in a time that has its limitations. It gave me a lot of strength.

“When I am frustrated or I don’t know what to do, I spend time in the studio,” she adds. “In normal times, you have more outside life, so working on these pieces definitely went very fast.”

Ahuva in her garden with Scarred, which was also made in lockdown.

Ahuva in her garden with Scarred, which was also made in lockdown. - Credit: Archant

Three of these new works will feature in her upcoming exhibition Imperfection – a triptych titled Scarred, Fractured and Hope, metaphors for the marks lockdown has impressed on us.

Working intuitively, without any modelling or sketches to guide her, Ahuva’s sculptures emerge organically as she chisels away at the pieces of stone until something is revealed – a face with a scar made from the stone’s natural textures, or another that is looking upwards in a gesture of hope, as if to say, “we’re still here and we are looking towards a better time”.

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Unable to select specific stones to work with, the sculptures were made from blindly chosen rocks that were delivered to Ahuva’s door. “This current time is not ideal, to put it mildly, but you have to make the most of what you can,” she says.

“100 per cent I would work with stones chosen blindly again,” Ahuva goes on to say. “It adds an element of surprise; I open the box and I think this stone could be this or it could be that. Everything has a positive side.”

'Us', painted bronze-natural, £6,950.

'Us', painted bronze-natural, £6,950. - Credit: Archant

Imperfection will be DIBA ART London’s first exhibition post-lockdown, and it also takes its name from the disruption Covid-19 has caused. In particular, how it’s changed the gallery experience, from something that is shared and free-flowing, to by appointment.

The exhibition features sculptures from her previous exhibitions as well, including a series of bodies as they make their way through a yoga sequence, and the first sculpture Ahuva made – a pregnant woman titled Life.

“Each and every piece of work has got a bit of my soul in it and it gives me so much pleasure when the sculpture begins to appear,” she says.

Although she works with a range of materials, including bronze and glass, Ahuva says stone is her favourite. “I see something alive in stone. It speaks to me.”

Ahuva sculpts faces, which she sees in her surrounding environment – in mountains, in clouds and in trees. She also creates bodies, which she attributes to her yoga teaching and practice. “The body has got endless opportunities,” she says. “I would like for someone to show me a machine that works like clockwork and doesn’t need a spare part. Bodies are amazing.”

Ahuva found her artistic practice later in life after a friend noticed her biscuits were always perfectly uniformed. At 74, Ahuva says her journey as an artist started at an age when most people are winding down, adding, “but when the work starts rolling, I can’t stop.

“I always say I started late, but I’m a fast bloomer.”

Imperfection is on at DIBA ART London from August 20 to November 20.