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An Upcoming Exhibition and a Ferry to Athens

Friday, 17 January 2020

An upcoming exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Camden is serving to focus mind and my attention on the closing moments of the crowd fund for my book Here and There: The Search for Great Aunt Minna. The time it has taken to raise the funds, and I am extremely grateful to all of you for your generosity, has helped in the fact that I have been using the time to rewrite the narrative and to enhance the…

You, Me and Those Who Came Before - Judith Kerr, Esther Freud and David Milliband

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

As part of Refugee Week earlier this year, (17 - 23 June 2019) Counterpoint Arts commissioned internationally renowned Jillian Edelstein to respond to the festival's theme, 'You, Me and Those who Came Before'. Her series of portraits looked at eleven prominent public figures who share a refugee heritage. 

The series previewed at the Tate Exchange before transferring to the V&A for a week. 


George Sacks, Communism and Russia

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Among the family relatives that has an impact on my life was my grandmother’s brother, George Sacks – an intellectual and a communist – and his wife Betty. George had left for England during the apartheid era. Communism was particularly despised by the South African authorities. They referred to it’s ideology as the ‘Rooi Gevaar’ – literally that translates as the ‘Red Threat’. The level of paranoid…

Ukraine visit

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

I last visited Ukraine in 2002 desperately seeking answers. I wanted to understand why one branch of my father's family had disappeared, never to be seen again. Not talked about, conveniently forgotten, lost to history. I wanted to rectify that, to reinsert them into the family map. Before I went that first time I had the contents of one email to go on - a forced expulsion from the Latvian family…

Thank you

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Next month I am flying to Ukraine. I will be driving from Kiev to Dnipropetrovsk to visit Victor, my Great Aunt Minna's grandson. I last made the journey ten years ago. Since then there have been many changes: Victor went, in his words, 'bust', lost the milk plant where, having given up his job as a state paid scientist, had been attempting to manufacture experimental kosher condensed milk - 'not…

Travel Tips

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

I thought I would share this little diary note I made soon after I arrived back in the UK from Colombia in mid-July.

I am back in the familiar terrain of North London. The crows are making a din outside – now I associate that sound with the ‘corbeau’s of Rwanda and, I think, the macaws of Colombia and the last daredevil trip I made to the mangrove swamp on my last day there in spite of the Dengue…

It came out of left field

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Just before leaving for my father’s consecration in Cape Town last month, my 22-year-old son forwarded me an email

he had received via the genealogy site where he had been building a family tree. Someone was looking for anyone connected to my maternal Grandfather, Jack Sovinsky. Someone was looking for me.

Hello Jillian,

We live in Paarl, a beautiful town some 60 km north of Cape Town. It…

Emigration, Displacement and Struggle

Monday, 14 August 2017

I left South Africa thirty years ago in order to pursue my photographic career - and to leave the political landscape of South Africa that I abhorred. I had grown up with Apartheid.

I have used the camera in my life as many things - in my earlier career as a photographer on The Rand Daily Mail as a 'weapon' against the repressive regime, recording events that the public might otherwise have been…

El Camino De La Muerte

Thursday, 29 June 2017

 First published on 2nd March 2016 




In order to do this post I have to go back a bit. At this moment I am in India, having arrived here from China this morning. But for now I have to go back to Rwanda. Back to a sleepless night in Kigali soon after having returned there from Gisenyi close to the DRC border with Rwanda…


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

 (Originally published on, July 25 2014) 



I missed the pilots shout of Emergencia that came across the intercom system. I don’t know why. I was told later that it sounded faintly hysterical – a pitch or two too high for comfort. I did hear the only English announcement – a garbled one at that – about oxygen masks. It was then…

Week 2

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A few days ago I discovered that the Sangoma, the traditional healers who were living in the Valley,

and who partly inspired this project, have been kicked off their ancestral land.

I understand that a wealthy businessman bought the land in the Eastern Free State near the Lesotho border

and that the army and local police were instructed to move in to ensure that the Valley dwellers were

Kicking off- Day 1

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Jake Lee, whom I met at a Counterpoints seminar at Dartington, kindly and generously kicked off the pledging yesterday as it went live.  I am indebted to him and to Aine O'Brien and  Dijana Rakovic at Counterpoints who followed suit swiftly thereafter. Thanks also to my best colleagues Antonio Olmos, Stuart Freedman, Del Barrett of the RPS, and to my dear friend Judy Friedberg . You all rock, as they…

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