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Hannah Frank


Early Life and Education


Hannah Frank (1908-2008) was an artist and sculptor based in the Southside. She was born in Glasgow and lived in the Gorbals in her formative years, first in Abbotsford Road and later in South Portland Street. She then moved further south, living at 72 Dixon Avenue, Crosshill, where she was part of the vibrant local Jewish community around Govanhill.

Her parents were Jewish migrants from Russia. She attended Abbotsford Road Primary School, Strathbungo Public School on Craigie Street, and Albert Road Academy in Pollokshields, before attending the University of Glasgow from 1926–30, and Glasgow School of Art.




She is remembered for her distinctive black and white drawings and her graceful bronze sculptures. She produced these drawings, in an Art Nouveau style, from the age of 17, under the pseudonym Al Aaraaf. (This pseudonym was a reference Edgar Allan Poe’s poem of the same name). Her drawings below are reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley but carry Frank’s unique style.

You can see a 2016 reproduction of one of these images, Girl in a Wood (1928), in the 7 Arches of Cleland Street underpass. The 7 Arches was created by Liz Penden and arts group WAVE Particle. Their artworks also depict local legends Thomas Lipton of Lipton teas and boxer Benny Lynch.


Hannah Frank was also a poet, and memorised her early poem ‘Faery,’ which she was always happy to recite. It was published in the Glasgow University magazine, GUM, in February 1927.




I stayed me there in tall trees’ shade
In Faery. And wild strange music played,
Piercing the air with sweetest strain,
So that I trembled. Dimly lit, a train
Moved from the forest’s depths.

I saw them by the weird moon’s gleam
On horses pass. As the riders of  a dream
They passed – noiseless hoofs and harness swaying.
Fair ladies singing songs, and strange words saying,
As olden stories tell.

In Faery I stood in tall trees’ shade.
Dim were the windings of the glade.
They were gone. I heard music still,
Faintlier, wafted faintlier, till
It died in the forest’s depths’



Her sculptures are mostly figure studies, in plaster, terracotta, or bronze, focussing on female forms. There was an exhibition of her work on what would have been her 110th birthday at Glasgow University Chapel in 2018-2019, which included her Seated Figure (below) from 1989. Her work has been exhibited on three continents and at the Royal Glasgow Institute, the Royal Academy, and the Royal Scottish Academy.

This artistic legacy and body of work makes her one of Scotland’s most significant artists. She produced sculptures well into her 90s and died aged 100 years old, posthumously receiving Glasgow City Council’s Lord Provost’s award for Art, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Glasgow. She is buried in Cathcart Cemetery (who also have website and can be found on Twitter).

You can learn more about Hannah at hannahfrank.org.uk, find some of her prints in the Glasgow Women’s Library archive, buy books about Frank from the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, and explore Southside sites connected with her life on our Govanhill and Gorbals heritage trails in South Glasgow Heritage Trails: A Guide (2019).


By Saskia McCracken

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