Zeitzugen: Meet a Scottish artist who left her symbol on a Berlin Wall

8 min read

When Margaret Hunter embellished her work onto partial of a Berlin Wall as it was being pulled down all over a city, she had no suspicion it would turn a relic visited by people opposite a world. 

Now 30 years later, Scottish-born artist Hunter is one of 7 ‘Zeitzugen’ (witnesses of a time) whose memories of Germany’s reunification are being promote opposite a city to pitch a tumble of a Berlin Wall. Her talk is being beamed as partial of 3D video projections onto a Brandenburg Gate and a East Side Gallery this week.

Hunter, now 71, can remember vividly when a Wall came down – nonetheless she wasn’t in a nation during a time, many to a fear of her German father Joachim Gross.

“It was shocking, startling and amazing,” she tells The Local from her studio in west Berlin’s Charlottenburg community over tea and biscuits.

“The night a wall fell, we was in Scotland given my daughter was removing married,” she says: “I was portrayal in my studio and Joachim came downstairs and said: ‘You won’t trust it Margaret, though a wall’s come down! Look what they did when my behind was turned!’’ He was distracted given Berlin was his city, it was positively his city.” 

READ ALSO: Berlin Wall fall: The unimaginable impulse that altered a universe forever

They watched a news and “incredible” footage display people clambouring atop a wall that had divided a city for 28 years.

“It was unbelievable. It was incredible, we could frequency trust it,” says Hunter. “We were stunned. It had been building adult for a prolonged time, though nobody could have illusory that it would occur in that way.”

Inspiration struck.

“I immediately done a painting,” Hunter says. ‘Berlin 9.11.89’, shows hands reaching adult with thespian colours and was desirous by a Wall tumble and a Monday demonstrations that led to a mangle down of a German Democratic Republic (GDR).

“It’s about being partial of what’s going on,” says Hunter “I wanted to uncover a play of that moment.”

Berlin 9.11.89, that Margaret Hunter embellished on a night a Berlin Wall opened. Photo pleasantness of Margaret Hunter

That portrayal was sole fast thereafter and, unfortunately, Hunter has no suspicion where it is today. 

‘I was great too’

When a integrate returned to Berlin, that was solemnly starting to bear a routine of apropos one city instead of two, they felt a electric atmosphere.

They headed to a Brandenburg Gate, a channel that had divided East and West.

“That was a unequivocally poignant thing,” says Hunter. “My father and I, and a crony went down. There with masses of people. Everybody only congregated there. We were all singing, jolt hands and hugging strangers, bottles of Sekt were popping all over a place. 

“I was fasten in and great – we was great too. It was so emotional. It was such a moment.”

Hunter says there was still dishonesty that a Wall was entrance down and some people had reservations about channel a limit in box a controls were put behind into place.

“The unimaginable had happened with a wall descending so some people were a bit questionable of what would happen,” she says.

‘I’ve got zero to lose’

Hunter’s trail to Berlin is remarkable. As a divorced mother-of-two vital in a encampment in Ayrshire, west of Scotland, she had always been lustful of art though had never complicated it. She was speedy to request to schools by a clergyman during a category she attended. 

Although Hunter suspicion she was too “ancient” to go to art propagandize compared to younger students (Hunter was in her early 30s during a time) she suspicion “why not, I’ve got zero to lose”.

She was supposed during Glasgow School of Art and commuted from her village, Fairlie, in what she describes as a “hard time though a unequivocally good time”.

READ ALSO: How Berlin is imprinting a 30th anniversary of a tumble of a Wall

As a grade was entrance to an end, Hunter felt she indispensable another year of investigate – and when she saw an muster of German artist Georg Baselitz’ work in Amsterdam she was assured she had to investigate with him. 

After operative tough to secure a pitch to work underneath him during a Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and frantically cobbling together adequate funding, Hunter arrived in 1985. By this indicate her dual children Alana, now 49, and Thomas, now 50, were in their teens. 

From that indicate Hunter separate her time between Berlin and Scotland, with her children visiting Germany often.

“I jumped in during a low finish though to be honest we didn’t have many choice,” she says. “Our conditions – we was newly divorced, we had nothing. And vital from a extend during a art school; we had to take it as distant as we could.”

‘I suspicion a East Side Gallery would be pulled down’

The divided city has always been a clever change in Hunter’s work. Finding her feet in a city, she dripping adult lots of new practice and was meddlesome in visiting East Berlin and East Germany.

In 1990, Hunter was one of a organisation of artists asked to paint on a territory of a Berlin Wall in Friedrichshain, that became famous as a East Side Gallery.

A sum of 118 artists from 21 countries embellished murals on a Wall along a length of 1.3 kilometres. Before a tumble of a GDR, a lethal limit regime had existed – and during slightest 10 people were killed in a limit area of a East Side Gallery.

So a artistic takeover of a Wall that had caused so many wretchedness was a symbol, representing a trail to a one city and a destiny of Berlin, though one still traffic with a past, tensions and changing identities.

Hunter’s work ‘Joint Venture’ shows dual heads or masks on their side, display a suspicion of dual Germanys as “strange bedfellows”.  Hunter says a reunification of Germany was billed as a corner try though a lot of people also struggled with their new lives or roles.

The portrayal shows people pulling and pulling, and carrying to pierce themselves, many like a existence of what happened.

Margaret Hunter’s Joint Venture portrayal during a East Side Gallery Photo pleasantness of Margaret Hunter

In another shred of a Wall allocated to her, Hunter combined ‘Hands’, that featured hands reaching up, like a ones in a portrayal she done on a night of a Wall fall.

Hunter also gave a territory of her shred to another artist Birgit Kinder who unequivocally wanted to paint a GDR Trabant automobile violation by a Berlin Wall, that has turn one of a many famous murals of a gallery.

“She came along and parked her small Trabi adult beside me and pronounced we wish to paint here,” says Hunter. “I pronounced I’d give her one of my segments.”

The East Side Gallery has left by renovations and upgrades given 1990. 

Hunter recalls how a artists used ladders and inexpensive paint in a commencement of a project, maybe not utterly realizing a stress it would hold. Over a years some-more income has left into preserving a Wall, a largest alfresco gallery in a universe featuring 105 murals.

“I suspicion (the East Side Gallery) was going to get pulled down given they were pulling a wall down turn about it,” she says. “I never illusory it was going to stay. At some points in time it was unequivocally dilapidated.”

Margaret Hunter operative on a Wall in 1990. Photo pleasantness of Margaret Hunter

She has desired a ongoing discourse with visitors from all over a universe who come to a East Side Gallery and take photos.

“It’s turn like a monument,” Hunter says. “A lot of people have been observant it would be good for it to be a World Heritage Site.”

The 30th anniversary of a Berlin Wall tumble is a time of churned emotions for many.

This year a concentration has also been on remembering a ‘Peaceful Revolution’ that led to a tumble of a Iron Curtain, something that Hunter says is a “positive and healing” approach of describing it.

READ ALSO: Is Germany unequivocally joined 30 years after a tumble of a Berlin Wall?

Hunter says she felt an bargain with people from East Germany given of her knowledge of entrance to Berlin from a encampment in Scotland “with outrageous eyes”.

“And we consider for them it was similar,” she says. “So we consider that’s since we felt an consolation for a east. So many people tumbled over unfortunate to come for a good life and afterwards a good life didn’t always happen, afterwards it’s a disappointment.”

‘It’s a final pitch of a Iron Curtain’

Hunter’s life has been made by Berlin and a events in a ever-evolving city. She met her father Gross, who died in 2002, in a tyro prosaic share shortly after nearing a city. It’s where she still lives currently nonetheless it’s been renovated to accommodate her studio.

Family, including her children and grandchildren, Emma, Stephen and Makayla – who is a immature gifted painter and drawer herself – spend time in Berlin with Hunter, who now lives with her partner Roger Webb. 

Margaret Hunter during her studio in Berlin. Photo: Kulturprojekte/Lena Giovanazzi

Hunter still listens earnestly to her friends from a former West and GDR and is a ardent storyteller herself, recounting her practice of exiting East Germany in sequence to revisit her husband’s family nearby Kassel in Hesse. “You’d be pushing behind by East Germany and you’d see a splendid lights and consider ‘yes, we’re roughly behind in a glitz’,” she says.

She is celebrated to be one of a 7 Zeitzugen whose stories are appearing opposite a city to pitch a anniversary, and featuring in a book published by Kulturprojekte Berlin, a central organizers of a celebrations.

READ ALSO: 10 things we never knew about German reunification

Other witnesses embody polite rights leaders, those who shaped insurgency movements, immigrants and church representatives.

Hunter says she’s wakeful there are so many “poignant and formidable stories to tell” though believes she was selected given she was neutral:  “the Scottish chairman who could see both sides”.

A mouthpiece from Kulturprojekte told The Local: “We interviewed Margaret Hunter for a open atmosphere muster project, as she was concerned as an artist in a origination of a East Side Gallery, and as a contemporary witness, she was means to severely heighten a exhibitions with her story.

“The artistic allowance of a Berlin Wall outlines a large change of Berlin and Germany into a new duration after 1989/90, that can be impressively conveyed by a memories and assessments of contemporary witnesses such as Margaret Hunter.”

And meaningful her art will live on in a East Side Gallery is another conspicuous feat of Hunter’s life and her discourse with Berlin.

“Now that a East Side Gallery has determined a place, it won’t go anymore. It’s permanent and we feel unequivocally unequivocally happy about that. we consider it’s unequivocally important, it’s a genuine symbol. It’s a final pitch of a Iron Curtain.

“And for me – my portrayal is on it. we feel unequivocally happy about that partial of it.”

To see Margaret Hunter’s work and review some-more of her practice revisit margaret-hunter.com

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