Starting to paint late in life with no artistic training, the exquisite work of painter, Alfred Wallis gets the close attention it deserves in this major collection of his work.
Alfred Wallis’ (1855-1942) expressive drawings and paintings capture the immediacy of his direct experiences of the sea. Wallis lived in Cornwall throughout his life, working on deep sea fishing boats and then as a marine scrap merchant. He turned to painting when he was in his seventies and with no formal training, using this creative outlet as a means to escape the isolation and loneliness that he felt following the passing of his wife. In his final year of his life, Wallis lived in a workhouse and here, with materials gifted to him by artist Ben Nicholson and art critic Adrian Stokes, he continued to recall and sketch his memories of the sea, shore and Cornish landscape.
Three sketchbooks made in his final year (1941-2) filled with drawings and paintings in varying styles, have recently been rediscovered and these are the catalyst for this exhibition. Alfred Wallis Rediscovered will explore Wallis’ paintings from the Kettle’s Yard Collection, with particular attention to his later works and drawing practices. Wallis’ close friendship with the creator of Kettle’s Yard, Jim Ede, who purchased large numbers of the artist’s paintings in the 1930s, is demonstrated through their lively letter correspondence, which will be on display.
Ben Nicholson described Wallis’ work in 1942 as ‘an immensely real experience’. This exhibition will shine new light on this innovative artist whose contribution to the development of modern art in Britain deserves closer attention.