Noah Landau was born in 1936 in the East End of London. His mother Charlotte Zeta Garber was a painter, cartoonist and artists’ model and father R S Sutzcovitz-Sutzcover a painter. His grandparents on his mother’s side emigrated to the United States to escape pogroms in Polish Lithuania while his paternal grandparents moved to England from Russia for the same reason. Both families were respected Rabbinical families with one of Noah’s ancestors being Elija ben Solomon (1720-97), one of Europe’s most respected rabbis.
Noah’s paternal grandfather first went to South Africa “with barely the shirt on his back” but later moved to England where he became very successful in property and married a Rabbi’s daughter from Poland. His grandfather then moved with his family, including Charlotte, Noah’s mother, to the United States. However he died from malaria while salvaging Spanish gold in Panama leaving his wife and Charlotte destitute in the Jewish quarter of New York. Charlotte kept her mother, who lived for another two years, and herself alive by working as a self-trained commercial artist.
At this point fate intervened when cousins of Charlotte, who were society painters in Paris, paid her way over to Europe where she was able to get work as an artist’s model due to her Japanese-like beauty which was popular at that time. Noah’s parents met during a street festival in Paris, married and enjoyed a private income that allowed them to follow their interest in art. The couple were well-connected with the art elite of Britain and Europe, as is illustrated by the fact that when renowned dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler spread his art collection across Britain for safe keeping during World War II, works by Picasso, Gris and Braque hung on the walls of the family home.
Noah displayed an interest in art from an early age and was accepted to the Slade, England’s pre-eminent art school, where he won the Open Prize for painting in 1955. He then went to Israel where he served on a kibbutz for 18 months during what was a perilous time in the history of the new state Following this he moved to Paris where his parents were then living, andstudied at the prestigious Academie Julienne Between 1957 and 1960 he was apprenticed to some of the leading artists in Europe, studying etching and engraving with S W Hayter, granite and marble carving with Shamai Haber, and acting as technical assistant to sculptor Kenneth Armitage.
In 1961 Noah moved back to England, reaching high levels of technical and creative achievement in an array of new roles over the next decade. As a television set designer and visual effects designer for the BBC he was involved with many classic programmes during what was a golden age for British television including Dr Who and Quatermas. After resigning from the BBC, Noah moved to Dorset where he learned to make medieval musical instruments, becoming a member of the International Registrar of Lutiers.
He was represented in sculpture by the prestigious Redfern Gallery in London and began a further career as an art tutor. His first position was as art teacher at Clayesmore Public School, which at that time had one of the lowest achievement rates of any public (private) school in England. Within three years Noah’s students were among the top achievers nationwide in the subject of History of Art and Architecture.
Between 1964 and 1967 Noah was lecturer at Bristol University School of Art and between 1970 and 1973 he was a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Board of Examiners in University Entrance History of Art and Architecture. In the 1970s Noah once again stepped into new roles. He became a traditional boat builder, and served on the Rainbow Warrior with Greenpeace, which includedspending six months under house arrest in Spain with the rest of the ship’s crew.
Family reasons brought Noah to New Zealand in 1983 where he immediately made an important contribution to the teaching of art in this country. Noah was a member of the team that set up the first graphic design course for Northland Polytechnic in Whangarei, and was course director for Hungry Creek Private Polytechnic at Puhoi between 1989 and 1993.
From the mid-1990s Noah concentrated on his first love which is painting, living in the Wairarapa and South Taranaki. During this time he continued the exciting development of his art, completing some of his most important works.
Noah died on Friday 11 March 2011.