Monday 25 January 2016

SS America and Alfred Wallis

Watch this first, but I urge you to turn off the rowdy music.

What struck me were the texts that accompany the images of the doomed vessel. These reminded me of the Cornish fisherman and brilliant artist Alfred Wallis whose subjects were, he wrote: "what use To Bee out of my memory what we may never see again…"

A number of Wallis's lovely pictures can be seen in Kettle's Yard, Cambridge. This, the former home of Jim Ede, is open to the public (although currently closed for redevelopment) and is by far the most beautiful place I've ever visited, the home of my dreams. Simply furnished, utterly habitable and with a magnificent collection of modernist art (Roger Hilton, David Jones, Gaudier Bresska, Naum Gabo and so on), all beautifully arranged in a  series of rooms where one could contentedly while away a lifetime.

Shortly before he died Wallis wrote to Ede, who had been a loyal supporter:

i am thinkin of givin up The paints all to gether i have nothin But Persecution and gelecy [jealousy] and if you can com [come] down for an hour or 2 you can take them with you and give what they are worf [worth] afterwards. These drawers and shopes are all jealous of me.

Odd that Wallis could manage 'jealous' but was banjax'd by 'gelecy'. Wallis's paintings and prose are of a piece. A marvellous painter, and a very good man.

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