Naviasky Historical Art Work Adorns Donisthorpe’s Walls

Donisthorpe Hall has benefited from a gift of two beautiful Philip Naviasky drawings.

The bequest came from the family of the late Audrie Walsh who asked that the two art works be donated to the home after her death. The pictures, in memory of Audrie and her late husband Jack Walsh, now hang in prominent positions in the home’s reception area.

One of the pictures, dated 1925, is that of an un-named elderly male resident from the former Leeds Home for Aged Jews and Home of Rest, two years after the home was founded in 1923 in Chapeltown. The home was the forerunner of Donisthorpe Hall which moved to its present location in 1956 giving the drawings historical significance.

Audrie’s daughter Francine Atar described the works as “really lovely”.

“As Naviasky was a Leeds artist, and as the subjects relate to Donisthorpe Hall’s roots they are rather special,” she said.

One of her delights is that the pictures are now on display where they can be enjoyed by residents, relatives and visitors.

Naviasky Andrew and Candace
Chairman of Trustees Andrew Brown and Social Care Manager Candace Grant with one of the Naviasky paintings which can now be found in Donisthorpe Hall

Jack Walsh was born in Leeds and Audrie, born and bred in Hull, moved to Leeds as a child.

“My parents married in Leeds and spent all their married life working hard as business people and raising their family,” explained Francine.

The couple were long standing and respected members of the United Hebrew Congregation and in her younger days Audrie worked for many Leeds organisations including Morris Silman primary school, Wizo and shul leisure clubs.

Audrie’s son Mark moved to Toronto and daughter Francine to London but the family remained close. Jack died in 1990 having lived to see all of his six grandchildren.

“When my mother died in January 2014 she had grandchildren living in London, Bristol, Dallas and Jerusalem and two great-grandchildren in Jerusalem,” said Francine.

“My mother had a very close relationship with her children and each of her grandchildren, and was an admirer of Philip Naviasky’s work — she particularly loved the study of the elderly man from 1925.

“She told Mark and myself many times she wanted us to donate the art works to Donisthorpe Hall after her death.

“She would be very happy indeed to know that the drawings are now displayed at the care home, just as she hoped.”

The son of Polish immigrants Naviasky won a scholarship to the Leeds School of Fine Arts in 1907 at the age of 13, prior to his acceptance into the Royal Academy school five years later as the youngest ever student.

After winning a Royal Exhibition award Naviasky went on to study at the Royal College of Art before taking up a post as an art teacher at Leeds College of Art.


by John Fisher