Tel Aviv – Been There

The Tel Aviv woman who lives in a museum

A portrait of artist Ilana Goor overlooks a display table in the Ilana Goor House Museum in Jaffa, Tel Aviv.

Photo by Alberto Paredes / Alamy

Tel Aviv – Been There

The Tel Aviv woman who lives in a museum

Artist Ilana Goor: “This place is special because it’s a living museum, it’s my home, and I’m constantly changing and repositioning things.”

Kike del Olmo
Kike del Olmo Travel Photographer

We’re in Jaffa, Tel Aviv. Shops are packed together, their stock spilling onto the sidewalks. Most of it looks old, because this is what sells: anything that has resisted the passage of time. I see candelabras, lightbulbs, statues, radios, unpainted picture frames, watches, curved knifes and straight swords, even carpets in the process of being woven. Objects that all fight for attention within shops that occupy a few blocks surrounded by boutiques, artists’ studios and galleries inside centuries-old houses that give way to the city’s beautiful cobblestone lanes.

Here the Jaffa neighborhood narrows and becomes cleaner, more touristy in feel, rich. Between the history-hawkers and this more modern side is the old flea market, now reduced to a small esplanade of merchandise displayed on the ground. I can’t help but think that the art galleries and neat cafés have stolen some of the magic from ancient Jaffa.

Ilana Goor is Israel’s most internationally well-known living artist and one of the most fervent defenders of “artistic Jaffa”. We meet at her home, now the Ilana Goor Museum dedicated to her work. It sits on a hill in Old Jaffa with great views of the Mediterranean. “This is the place where I made my best works of art,” she says. “In 1995 I bought this house, and though I never thought it would be made into a museum, these days the people come to see it and it’s more popular than me.”

She scans the view from her terrace out over Tel Aviv towards where the sun sparkles on the sea. “It’s Jaffa’s energy, its light, that fulfills me. It’s great that young artists have space here, not only to sell but to work and create. I lived for 50 years in New York, I have a house there, but my work is here. It’s magical.”

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Jaffa was an important Mediterranean port as far back as the 18th century BCE and was part of the...

Jaffa was an important Mediterranean port as far back as the 18th century BCE and was part of the Ancient Egyptian Empire. The First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem used Cedars of Lebanon imported via Jaffa. Photo by Hanan Isachar / Alamy

Hanan Isachar

Hanan Isachar

Agency
Alamy

Jaffa was an important Mediterranean port as far back as the 18th century BCE and was part of the Ancient Egyptian Empire. The First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem used Cedars of Lebanon imported via Jaffa.