Watch archive and experimental films revealing the links between the sea and the screen in Cornwall.
November’s programme of historic film screenings connects the work of influential St Ives painter Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) to contemporary filmmaking in Cornwall. Footage from a 1959 BBC Monitor documentary features Wallis and a description of the latter part of his life, at the point he turned to painting, working from the kitchen table of his St Ives home. His work is highlighted in the first room of the new Modern Conversations display at Tate St Ives.
Complementing the documentary are two films connecting the life of Alfred Wallis to contemporary filmmaking and coastal lives in Cornwall. Filmmaker Mark Jenkin (b1976) is the great-great-great-grandson of Alfred Wallis. He is the Director of BAIT – a BAFTA winning film about tensions in a Cornish fishing village and the struggle for a fisherman to purchase a boat and continue his livelihood.
Jenkin’s experimental short film The Essential Cornishman (2016) is shown alongside The Saving of Bill Blewitt (1936) Directed by Harry Watt. Produced to promote the 75th anniversary of the Post Office Savings Bank, Watt’s film improvises a story out of the people of Mousehole and the Cornish landscape they inhabit, focused around two fisherman and their attempts to save enough to buy a new boat.
With thanks to the BBC, BFI and Mark Jenkin for screening permissions.
Curated by Melanie Stidolph, Learning Curator and Imogen Frost, Assistant Learning Curator.
Image: ‘Saving of Bill Blewitt….’ © The Saving of Bill Blewitt film still © GPO, Courtesy of the BFI National Archive