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by The Kettle’s Yard Development Team
The deeply mystical seascapes and primitive landscapes by Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) in the Kettle’s Yard collection represent the single largest collection of work by the Cornish painter anywhere in the world.
Wallis spent much of his life as a deep-sea fisherman but took up art later in life to fend off loneliness after the death of his wife, painting his map-like works from memories of time spent at sea. He was discovered by artists Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood while painting in his cottage in St Ives, Cornwall, and was later introduced by Nicholson to Kettle’s Yard’s founder, Jim Ede, who during their long-standing friendship bought batches of paintings by post.
Wallis is well-known for having produced his works on whichever materials came to hand and much of the appeal is the raw nature of these materials. However, a number of years ago it was discovered that several of the works in the collection had been mounted on asbestos board in the 1970s. From the moment this was discovered, the works were removed from public display and unable to be loaned to other organisations. Thanks to the wonderful support of the Friends of Kettle’s Yard, The Pilgrim Trust, The Rothschild Foundation and the University of Cambridge we have been undertaking the substantial work needed to bring these works back to public display.
The project, which had never been attempted before, started in 2013. Every last brushstoke underwent fully certified and extensive decontamination treatment. Now reaching the final stage of their journey, the works are being remounted, in keeping with the original frames.
In the space of a little over four years these works have been fully restored and can now be displayed at museums and galleries all over the world. When Kettle’s Yard re-opens the works conserved as part of this project will finally find safe harbour, in their rightful home in the house.
We would like to express our gratitude to the Friends of Kettle’s Yard, The Pilgrim Trust, The Rothschild Foundation and the University of Cambridge. Thank you for your support and making it possible for these much-loved works to roam the world once more.
For further information about how you can support Kettle’s Yard please click here.