Festival Exhibition: Alfred Wallis - Ships & Boats

Saturday 29 July 2017

From the collection of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge

Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) was an artist and mariner. The largest collection of his paintings is held by Kettle’s Yard – the University of Cambridge modern and contemporary art gallery. We are delighted to present this substantial exhibition of the artist’s works at the Fermoy Gallery.

The creator of Kettle’s Yard, Jim Ede, began collecting Wallis’ paintings in the late 1920s, having been introduced to the artist by British modernists, Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, who held Wallis in high esteem. Ede said of Wallis: ‘In all his work he captures the universal aspect of his picture as opposed to its local one. Wallis is never local’.

Wallis was born in Devonport in 1855 and claimed to have gone to sea at the age of 9, working on vessels that sailed across the Atlantic. He moved to St Ives in 1885 and took up painting ‘for company’ late in his life, following the death of his wife in 1922. He painted from the memory of his experiences, depicting ships at sea, wrecked, and at harbour, as well as, although less often, houses and landscapes. His paintings, on salvaged fragments of card, paper and board, are not composed according to perspective but rather instinct and the relative prominence of the subject.


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