In the name of art, it’s cars in the sky at the Festival of Speed every year since 1997. Meet the man who makes them: Gerry Judah, a Baghdadi Jew from Calcutta.
A classic equestrian statue—albeit with neither Archduke Charles of Austria nor Tamerlane riding it—was the first massive automotive installation at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, created in 1997 to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of Ferrari. The practice has since become a major visual hallmark of the festival along with the endless bales of hay and the scores of racing drivers in attendance.
Gerry Judah (born 30 July 1951) is a Calcutta-born artist and designer who has created spectacular settings for theatre, film, television, museums and public spaces. He has recently returned to his Fine Art roots with highly acclaimed contemporary paintings exploring the effects of war and environmental catastrophes on the urban landscape which have entered a number of international private and public collections.
After college, Judah set up his studio in Shaftesbury Avenue, the theatre centre in the West End of London. There, he began to work on large sculptures. Needing still to earn his keep and finance his work, he took casual work round the corner in many theatres as a stage hand and scenic artist. This included work at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Royal Festival Ballet, London Contemporary Dance, Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre.
Judah was taken with the public nature of this work and decided to find settings for his own art in more public arenas than the rarefied spaces of conventional galleries. He began to build a reputation for innovative design, working in film, television, theatre, and in museums. He created spectacular settings for institutions such as BBC, British Museum, Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, The Who, David Bailey, Terence Donovan, Sting, Godley and Creme and Ridley Scott Associates. He has also created spectacular sculptures for Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Renault, Ford, Rolls-Royce, Honda, Toyota, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed and has designed bridges in London and Cambridge. Judah also designed a sculpture for Human Rights which was to be sited in Potters Fields, on the South Bank next to Tower Bridge in London and another in Sheffield across the road from the train station. The London sculpture was recommended for planning permission but was refused by the London Docklands Development Corporation and went to Public Enquiry. It was the fist sculpture to be considered for public enquiry and was supported by the Corporation of London, London Borough of Southwark, English Heritage and the Royal Fine Arts Commission but was refused planning permission by the Planning Inspector on the grounds that it might incite demonstrations against human rights abuses.