Ships and Boats

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Ships and Boats

Alfred Wallis

The artist

Alfred Wallis was born in Devon in 1855. In the 1870’s he had been a ‘mariner, merchant service’, crossing the Atlantic and later working in the smaller fishing boats closer to shore before becoming a scrap-metal merchant in St. Ives. In 1922, and with no art training, Wallis took up painting ‘for company’ after the death of his wife.

Wallis had little money and mainly painted on found bits of card and discarded packaging. Using household and ship paint from the supply store in St. Ives, Wallis painted ships and boats, seascapes and villages of Cornwall in a limited supply of colours. Wallis painted 6 days a week, producing hundreds of works.
Wallis was approached by Ben Nicolson and Christopher Wood in 1928 when the London artists were visiting St. Ives. They championed his work back in London and included him in the Seven & Five Society’s exhibition in 1929.

Towards the end of this his life, Wallis become increasingly isolated. He died in Madron poorhouse in 1942.

The work

On display are forty paintings, from the Kettle’s yard reserve collection and paintings from the part of the house which will be closed due to building works. The collection on display shows what Wallis is best known for, from brigantines and sailing boats to tug boats and motor vessels, often battling with unpredictable seas. What shines out in this exhibition is Wallis’ exceptional natural talent.

Alfred Wallis (1855 -1942) is one of the most original and inspiring British artists of the 20th Century. Kettle’s Yard owns nearly 100 works by Alfred Wallis and this exhibition is a great opportunity to see 40 of Wallis’ remarkable paintings, some of which have rarely been shown. This is the first opportunity for over 20 years to see all these works presented together.


Past Event

Ships and Boats

Sat 21 September 2013


Ends: Thu 21 November

City Gallery


01733 864663


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