STEPHENSON, Chaim [1926 - 2016]

Sculptor Chaim Stephenson was born Hyman H Stephenson in 1926, known as Harry, he was the son of immigrants from the Ukraine Carl and Gertrude Stupenski. Their family home was for many years 42 Harrowby Street L8 (now demolished - the actress Jean Alexander also lived there). In the obituary written by his wife, the author Lynne Reid Banks, it is recorded that his father changed his name to Stephenson because the conductor of an orchestra in which he was a clarinettist could not pronounce Stupenski.

Harry Stephenson attended a local Jewish school and during the war years served as a 'Bevin Boy' in the Lancashire coalfield. In 1947  he joined a group of young Jews who entered Palestine illegally at the time that the British mandate was ending. Working as a farmworker in a kibbutz in western Galilee he joined the Palmach fighting force when the state of Israel was established, fighting in the first Arab-Israeli war. He worked as a shepherd and gardener for over 20 years, developing his passion for sculpture, a medium in which he was entirely self-taught. 
It was on a visit to England in 1960 that he met Lynne Reid Banks who was enjoying great success with her novel The L-Shaped Room,  which became a successful film in 1962. In 1969, now with three children, they settled in England and he became a full-time artist. He produced a large and varied body of work, his Homage to Soweto being a notable work located in the church of St Martin in the Field, London.

He died in London in 2016 aged 89.

Harrowby Street L8

A view of Harrowby Street c.1968

Stephenson's Homage to Soweto


The Guardian obituary is as good a source of information as I have found.