Margarete Berger-Hamerschlag

Two Girls at Youth ClubFrom her earliest years when she scribbled on the prescription pads of her doctor father, Margarete manifested a desire to make art. 

Margarete (or Gretl) Berger-Hamerschlag, studied at Professor Cizek’s groundbreaking school for children in Vienna and then at the Kunstgewerbeschule (Arts & Crafts School) in Vienna. From there she embarked on a whirlwind international career as illustrator, portrait painter, landscape artist, as well as fashion design and costume design for the theatre.

She was a free spirit, traversing the world, painting from country to country, experiencing life to the full. In 1934 she and her husband Josef Berger, whom she had married impulsively one lunchtime without telling her respectable family, set out for Palestine where he had architectural commissions, and to escape the darkening clouds in Europe. From there they set up home in England two years later where she continued her successful career. But the Second World War brought a sadder dimension to her life and Postwar austerity meant that her art was less in demand.

She started teaching in Youth Clubs in about 1950 to make money but this activity gradually came to dominate her life and it was in this period in which she was able to combine the several facets of her artistic skills. Her works pioneered and documented, the beginnings of the youth club movement in post-war London.

A selection of the artist’s work has been selected especially from the Tavistock Centre’s Art collection for the Tall Tales Tour. This is the first time these particular work, predominantly from her Youth Club Series, have left the Health Centre for publish showcase. 

Image C: Two Girls at Youth Club, Margarete Berger-Hamershclag, watercolour on paper, photo by Tavistock Centre Art Collection