The Whitechapel Open - In 1994 The Whitechapel Gallery commissioned Rachel Lichtenstein to create a public artwork as part of the Whitechapel Open exhibition. Her sculptural installation Ner Htamid (eternal lights) was displayed in the window of C.H.N. Katz, a string and paper bag shop in Brick Lane that had been operating from the same premises opposite the mosque for over fifty years.
Ner Htamid consisted of 12 small sculptures: welded steel frames filled with objects sealed in resin. The artefacts had been recovered from her grandfather's attic after he died; tools from his East London watchmaking and jewellery shop, family photographs and personal possessions. The writer Iain Sinclair wrote about this artwork in Lights Out for the Territory (Granta, 1997). This was the beginning of a series of ongoing collaborations between Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair.
Lichtenstein had a direct relationship with the objects she had chosen. They travelled only a short distance, less than half a mile West, from one long-established shop to another....instant antiques: relics created by the act of selection. A small bayonet bulb, a thimble of inherited light. An unredeemed death-ring woven from hair: with its ticket, the number 6. A white eye that is the face of a watch. The portrait of a mother with two infants: unknowns. A decorative fork floating in a cloud of lace...there were many more items in Lichtenstein's back catalogue, her private museum; more than she could show.
(Extract from Lights Out for the Territory, Iain Sinclair, Granta, 1997)