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“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, 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.
FREE, booking required
Whilst we are currently closed, you can explore 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.
Keep in touch using #AlfredWallisRediscovered on social media, and by signing up here for our weekly Kettle’s Yard newsletter.
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
The galleries on the ground floor are fully accessible. They can be accessed easily from the entrance area by steps or a ramp.
We are grateful to the following for their generous support:
The Mandarin Trust
Suling Chan Mead
John and Claudia Arney
John and Jennifer Crompton
Nicola Dandridge and Andrew Nairne
Paul and Daisy Havranek
Simon and Midge Palley
Elizabeth Simpson, OBE
Crane Kalman Gallery
Alex Haidas and Thalia Chryssikou
Dr Christopher Mallinson
Jonathan and Nicole Scott
Thank you also to all of those who donated to our Alfred Wallis for Everyone campaign