Wood on Wallis
Scarborough Art Gallery has been on a bit of a roll recently. The excellent Fredric, Lord Leighton exhibition was followed by the Jan Niedojadlo - the day I went being thoroughly enjoyed by kids - and now a little gem of a touring exhibition from the Hayward Gallery.
The 25 pieces of work on show range from a very fine Christopher Wood pencil on paper Boat at Concarmeau drawn in the last year of his life (1930) to a Denis Mitchell bronze Porthcressa (1967), my least favourite.
This is an exhibition which wonderfully captures the spirit of how St Ives inspired so many different artists between roughly 1930 and 1970 (the sixties being a really prolific period) - there's nothing later than 1974 here.
Look at Alfred Wallis' Trawler (c1925), then turn round and take in Ben Nicholson's May 1956: both working in St Ives and so different.
There is a very striking monoprint Opus Eight, by Naum Gabo, perhaps the most internationally renowned artist of his period. I particularly liked the two Peter Lanyon works Bicyclist in Penwith (1952) and Soaring Flight (1960). He is the only artist on show who was actually born in St Ives, I think.
For me though, the highlights are the two by Alfred Wallis, Trawler (c1925) and Ship in Rough Sea. 'Discovered' by Christopher Wood and Ben Nicholson, Wallis didn't start painting properly until he was 70! For me they are masterly, raw technique, funny and moving. Matthew Gale's book on Alfred Wallis in the Tate Series St Ives Artists will show you more of his great work or better still, go to St Ives and see why it inspired so many artists and continues to do so.
Go to the Tate there, you might catch some Adrian Heaths, Victor Parmores or Bryan Pearces.
In the meantime, spend some time catching this little gem in Scarborough.
Spotlight on St Ives continues to 4 November.
- Published in Visuals: Reviews