An example of enamel work on three triangular copper sheets fitted together to reveal a depiction of the city of Melbourne framed by a rainbow and gardens. The work is mounted on fabric-covered board with a timber frame. The piece was created by Polish Jewish artist Martha Ash in Melbourne and was acquired by Museum Victoria from Martha in 1995 as part of the Immigration and Artistic Practice Collection.

Martha, a Holocaust survivor, migrated to Melbourne with her husband and daughter in 1949. She worked with a variety of different media throughout her career, including ceramics, mosaics, jewellery, painting, sculpture and enamelling, and she drew on her Jewish heritage and culture as well as her own personal experiences for narrative and stylistic inspiration. Martha usually worked without sketches or drawings, quoted as observing ‘I’m not like other artists…I don’t draw or sketch my ideas before I start. The pictures are in my head, and so I just begin to work in the medium I have chosen.’

In the case of ‘Rainbow Over Melbourne’, Martha recognised the challenges involved with working with enamel and reflected: ‘You can’t just start doing enamels without knowing how to attack that medium; it is on copper, they are partners, it is a difficult medium…I love the brilliance of colours, I love it… it turns to different colours, you never know how, but of course you know if you are experienced…First I feel is the composition of the picture and then, of course, the tendency of colours is all important to me. I adore colours.’ ‘Rainbow Over Melbourne’ presents what Martha viewed as the beauty of her view of Melbourne from her East Melbourne apartment, looking across the Fitzroy Gardens to the city. The rainbow reflects Martha’s love of colour and provides a symbol of peace, something she had searched for in Europe and finally in Melbourne.

Physical Description

Enamel work on three triangular copper sheets fitted together to reveal a cityscape, rainbow and gardens. Mounted on brown, fabric-covered board with a timber frame.The reverse has a metal hook and wire for hanging, there are metal reinforcing pieces in each corner of the frame, and plastic pieces under the back edging.


Statement of Historical significance:
This artwork is a representation of the city of Melbourne, created in Melbourne by Polish Jewish migrant artist Martha Ash. It demonstrates her skill as an enamellist, one of her favourite art forms, and provides a window into the life of a talented and energetic woman who survived the Holocaust and found in Melbourne a place to pursue her creative, religious and community passions.

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