Author Mel Wright's Beyond the Jiving is a fascinating portrait of an artist's life, writes Germaine Arnold.

This study of the life of Margareta Berger-Hamerschlag is a fascinating insight into an artist who has largely been overlooked in the years since her death. In Beyond the Jiving, author Mel Wright has compiled the memoir of the artist to coincide with the 50th anniversary of her death, in the hope of bringing her work to a wider audience The brief but comprehensive book gives a vivid image of Berger-Hamerschlag's life, chronicling her early childhood right through to her untimely death, and features many reproductions of her artwork.

The artist herself is a fascinating character. Born into a Jewish family in Austria and training as an artist in her formative years, Berger-Hamerschlag travelled to England in 1936 to avoid the growing influence of the Nazi Party in her home country.

After her arrival in England, Berger-Hamerschlag took up the challenge of teaching art to West London's disenchanted youth. Spending her days in the company of rowdy teddy boys and girls left a lasting impression on the artist, and formed the basis for much of her artwork in later life.

The Austrian emigre's legacy is a moving and thoughtful social record of working class youth in post-war London which is chronicled with eloquence by the Lewisham-based author and musician, who has penned a variety of fiction and non-fiction focusing on the social history of popular music.

This is a fitting tribute to an artist who left a mark on so many young Londoners throughout the 1950s, and an engaging read for fans of the artist and those who have not encountered her before.

Beyond the Jiving is published by Deptford Forum Publishing on Sep 1. An exhibition of Berger-Hamerschlag's work opens at Honor Oak Gallery on Sep 18 to Oct 18. 020 8291 6094.