Photos: Ora Dolev and Dennis Kaliser
If there is one word that characterizes the art works of Hilary Meir, currently on show at Mediterranean Towers in Kfar Saba, it is optimism. Her pictures glow with color and light. Mostly in a realistic style, they reflect the things that have meant most to her over the years – her family, places she loves, sea and sky, people, angels. They are suffused with joy.
"People tell me all the time that my paintings are optimistic, and I suppose they are," says Hilary.
On a visit to the gallery where her pictures are hung, I was struck by how positively people react to them. As she showed me around, we were constantly stopped by people who felt they had to tell how much they enjoyed the exhibition, and how they admired her paintings. But Hilary is modest. "Someone offered me NIS3000 once for this picture of sea and sky," she said, indicating a bright blue landscape. "I kept it. though."
Among the pictures are several on boats and water, a number of portraits of people, including Marlene, a woman from the Philippines who looked after her after an operation, her seven granddaughters, and her late husband John. "There is so much love in these paintings. You can see it," she says. In the picture of her husband, "I tried to capture his sweetness, kindness and caring nature," and she has clearly succeeded.
The Meirs came to Israel from South Africa in 1960 and were among the earliest to settle in Savyon, which they found a warm and welcoming community. Hilary, a speech therapist, worked at Tel Hashomer, and John became Chief Pathologist of the IDF. He was severely injured in the line of duty in 1975, and was unconscious for eight months before he succumbed. Hilary, who had a son in the army at that time, another about to take a pilot's course, and a ten- year old, says, "I don't know how I lived through it." One night, in the hospital by his bedside, she saw a vision of the Staff of Hermes (the medical symbol) and heard a voice saying, "You sink or you swim, so you'd better swim. I've been swimming ever since," she says with a smile.
Hilary used to draw pictures for the grandchildren and when she turned sixty, her family encouraged her to learn to paint. The gifts they gave her were related to that – an easel, paints, and so on. From that time on, she has taken art lessons. The lessons culminated in the exhibition at Mediterranean Towers in Kfar Saba, which will be on show until mid-February. It is well worth seeing.