Monday, December 09, 2019

Alfred Wallis grave in St Ives

Alfred Wallis, mariner and painter, lost both his children and his wife before taking up painting late in life to keep himself company. Wallis’s naïve style of painting, with flattened perspectives and scale based on importance, was ‘discovered’ by Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, painters of the St Ives School, as they were passing by his house one day in 1928. They loved his paintings and Wallis became part of the progressive St Ives school of painters in the 1930s.

Despite influencing a generation of painters, it almost goes without saying that Wallis died penniless, in Madron Workhouse (a place for the orphaned, elderly, poor and disabled, that sounded like something between a jail and a concentration camp; after closing in 1948 with the advent of the NHS, the building became a meat processing factory. It’s now derelict), just outside of Penzance.

Still, at least the St Ives School paid for his tomb, created from Bernard Leach tiles, in Barnoon cemetery, situated above the lovely Porthmeor beach next to the Tate St Ives, where many of Wallis’ paintings are kept. His pictures nowadays don't go for huge amounts, but still, I'm sure he would have appreciated one of his crayon drawings selling for £10,000 and a painting for £30,000, or even a fraction of that, during his lifetime.

Previously on Barnflakes
Cornwall's master and slave shared gravestone

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