I have been reading books about Alfred Wallis on and off for a couple of years. By chance, the opportunity came to me this weekend as I was paying a little visit for a morning coffee at the York Art Gallery.
While there for a coffee, I thought to check to see what the current running exhibition was. It was a pleasant surprise, for it to become revealed to me, the artist of St Ives between 1930 and 1970 is on show in their featured gallery. The exhibition includes sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, and abstract paintings by Terry Frost, Peter Lanyon, Patrik Heron and others. The earliest works on display is by self taught painter Alfred Wallis.
Alfred Wallis was known as a “primitive” painter. In the mid 1920’s, after the death of his wife, he started painting "for company". Living in poverty he painted with household boat paint and materials at hand. Surfaces such as cardboard and wood were part of his regular supplies. Painting from memory and his knowledge of the St Ives Harbour Wallis’s sense of scale and proportion were very much his own. Due to the perspective and the line of the horizon being lost the paintings have a map-like feel or quality to them .
The selected exhibition from the Arts Council Collection will on view until the 27th of September.
Alfred Wallis works can also be seen at Tate St Ives
Further reading on Alfred Wallis:
Alfred Wallis Cornish Artist & Mariner
June 2009 issue of Artist & Illustrators Magazine features an article written by John Charles Clark called “Paint Like Alfred Wallis” In this, Clark looks at Wallis's life and his appeal and influence on 20th Century British painting.
It may also be useful to mention that the St Ives School of Painting will be running one and three day workshops this summer called In the Footsteps of Alfred Wallis.
External Links and information on Alfred Wallis
Images from the Tate Gallery Collection