Remembering Benedict Birnberg (1930 – 2023)

In Memory of Former Koestler Arts Trustee, Benedict Birnberg

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Remembering Benedict Birnberg (1930 – 2023): Former Koestler Arts Trustee

The solicitor Benedict Birnberg distinguished as ‘one of the greatest lawyers of his generation’, and a much-loved former trustee and supporter of Koestler Arts, passed away last month at the age of 93. On the day of his funeral, our Director of Outreach, Sarah, has shared her thoughts and fond memories of working alongside Ben:

“Not everyone who works at Koestler comes from an arts background. I joined Koestler Arts 16 years ago having studied philosophy and then law. So, when checking out the charity it wasn’t its associations and connections with many great artists that immediately impressed me, but finding out Ben Birnberg was on the board.

On meeting Ben his intelligence was immediately evident, but it was never coupled with a sense of superiority. He was as keen to listen as to contribute, and what was clear from the first time we met was that he found the work of our Charity truly fascinating. And he also loved the art!

Many people buy Koestler artwork because they see it as a charitable donation, others because they like the fact it’s made by the unfree. Ben bought the work because he loved it. I recall him coming back to the Koestler Arts house just before Christmas one year to buy a tea-set he’d seen whilst attending the building for a trustee’s meeting the week before. It was a ceramic set, naive in style and all the cups and the teapot itself had funny faces crudely shaped into the clay. “Isn’t it great?” he said, “I hope it’s functional!”

Ben served as a Koestler Arts Trustee for 10 years and was an invaluable member of the board. Everyone at Koestler Arts will always be grateful to him for his long standing and deep commitment to our work and we all send our condolences to his family whom he always spoke about with such warmth. We also suspect they may have, over the years, been gifted some rather wonderful pieces of prison art, which I hope they continue to enjoy with a fond smile.”