Toy Visit is a new exhibition displaying children's toys of Israel's first decades, as well as new toys inspired by old ones, all conveying a nostalgic longing for long forgotten memories.
For adults, the exhibition constitutes a rare opportunity to reminisce about their childhood, while the younger generation gets a glance at the toys played with by their parents and grandparents.
The exhibition, on display as part of Holon Design Week (taking place April 5th through April 9th), will take place at the Beit Meirov Art Gallery in Holon March 14th through May 30th.
Touring around Israel, curator Hana Hertsman has found collections of original periodic toys, while revealing an entire world of contemporary artists and designers whose creations draw inspiration from design and materials of old toys. Visitors of all ages are invited to the exhibition which is an intergenerational meeting point.
In Hertsman's words: the Toy Visit exhibition, which I had the honor to curate, is the product of my own nostalgic longing for toys and childhood games of my generation, made out of simple materials, produced and reused by crafty people, without being officially labeled as "green" or "recycled". Those included carts and rickshaws built out of orange crates found near the orchard, an improvised wooden horse with a handcrafted head and a body made of broomstick, as well as toys and didactic games my mother, who was a kindergarten teacher, purchased but also handcrafted on her own for her kindergarten children and for her daughters. Big hollow cubes, colorful puzzles, cards carrying photos of local Israeli sites and flowers, miniaturized musical instruments, a toy kitchen built out of old stoves, unused kerosene burners and obsolete pots. These simple items had created an entire world for us to play, share, experience, and develop, preparing us for the real world. In the words of Maria Montessori: "play is children's way to learn what cannot be taught".
The journey I made across the country in preparation for the exhibition made me realize how immortal toys are. Undoubtedly, the scenery of our childhood is immensely different from that of today's children; however, basic human needs actually remain unchanged, and toys and games - even if they take on a different look - remain the key to a world of imagination, senses, social experiences, cooperation, motion, challenge, patience, negotiation, ambition, and more."
Among the featured exhibits:
Original toys and carpentry tools made by the late artist and designer Beni Rosen, reflecting decades of fruitful work. In Rosen's words: "to be able to hold something, look at it, imagine, it and breathe new life into it is to me like breathing, eating, and drinking. Each and every existing object has a purpose. Every piece of wood, every little stone, or every piece of rusty iron can turn into anything you want".
In honor of his life's work, the exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Rosen, who passed away while the exhibition was in the making.
Toys from the collection of Akiva Wasserman, who boasts a toy collection of over 50 years, including a colorful wooden horse, wooden cars, a wooden airplane, a playroom, and more.
Toys from the collection of Michael Luria, some of which were imported from Japan in the 1950s, and toys made in Israel which were played with by children of those years, including: a wooden doll stroller, a colorful xylophone, a wheelbarrow, miniature furniture, a toy tractor, and various other items.
A wooden abacus from the collection of Michael Luria
Wooden toys created by designer Yael Hundert, a graduate of graphic design and carpentry studies, whose work reflects her love for children.
Games and toys made by Eliyahu Misgav, who builds unique wooden toys incorporating metal.
A toy tank, bus, and car made out of colorful tin, from the collection of Michael Luria
Dolls made by Yaffa Holtzman, made out of used colorful plastic bags cut into long stripes connected to a reel and knitted into each other. Holtzman's work is inspired by fairytales, television children's shows, and characters from children's storybooks.
Lighting fixtures made by designer Dalia Gefen, some of which draw inspiration from Israel's most popular children's books.
Pieces made by Miki Levin, who makes nostalgic children's toys made out of pinewood, such as a kitchen for children, handy domestic tools such as a phone, a clothes iron, an electric mixer, and a sewing machine.
Pieces made by Yehuda Chen, a maker of toys and games made of wood and metal. During the exhibition, Chen will hold toy building workshops which will be available for the general public.
A winged, manually motored tractor, Yehuda Chen
The annual Design Week Holon plays a key role in the city's vision of becoming a national design hub and an international center of innovation in this field. Similarly to previous years, this year's Design Week will also focus on revealing Israeli design and designers.
During Design Week Holon, April 5th through April 9th, the municipal galleries will be open to the general public between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. as well (in addition to the regular opening hours). Admission is free of charge.
Photo: Ran Yehezkel