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24 October 2020 – 20 June 2021, 11am – 5pm

“We will come to relish the freshness of Wallis’s wonderful vision, tingling fresh as the smack of a salt sea wind on your face.” 4 stars, The Times

“The 60 or so paintings that usually remain in storage make a rare appearance, and with letters and sketchbooks, afford a view of Alfred Wallis not just as an inspiration, but as an artist in his own right.” 5 stars, iNews

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, and used 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), that are filled with drawings and paintings in varying styles, were the catalyst for this exhibition. Alfred Wallis Rediscovered explored 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, was demonstrated through their lively letter correspondence, which was on display. Ben Nicholson described Wallis’ work in 1942 as ‘an immensely real experience’. This exhibition shined new light on this innovative artist whose contribution to the development of modern art in Britain deserves closer attention.

Download interpretation and list of works for the exhibition here

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Alfred Wallis at Home

On this page you will find a collection of resources relating to the Alfred Wallis Rediscovered exhibition, that can be explored at home.

Explore Alfred Wallis at Home here.

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Alfred Wallis, Motor vessel mounting a wave, n.d., 226 x 225 mm, courtesy of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge

Alfred Wallis, Ship with seven men, net and gull, n.d., 187 x 279 mm, oil on card. Courtesy of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge

Alfred Wallis, Three grey-sailed ships, n.d., 330 x 225 mm, courtesy of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge

Alfred Wallis, Two ships and steamer sailing past a port – Falmouth and St. Anthony lighthouse, 1931 (circa), 263 x 409 mm, courtesy of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge

Alfred Wallis, Shipwreck 1 – The Wreck of the Alba, 1938-40, 265 x 335mm, courtesy of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge