Thursday, 29 March 2007

Alfred Wallis AND Margaret Mellis

Having written comedy sketch material and stand-up material for years, and then other writing projects, I decided to leave laughter behind. I completed a ‘script doctor’ job on a WW2 movie called The Edelweiss Pirates, which was finally released in 2005, but not in Britain! Then, in the 2 years before we left London I embarked on the most intensive piece of work of my career - a screenplay on the last years of the painter Alfred Wallis.

I carried out a series of interviews with people who knew of, or knew, Wallis, including the last 2 living painters who knew Wallis – Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Margaret Mellis.

Margaret Mellis gave me, and the Refugee family, a great deal of her time over 3 weekends over a year and some wonderful insights into life in the 1940’s with the remarkable Wallis. Margaret concluded that Wallis was the finest British painter because he was so ‘true’. In turn, I came to the conclusion that Margaret Mellis was the finest FEMALE British painter.

(Below is her self-portrait from 1935 when she was 21)

Talking with Margaret gave me the key to the denouement of any screenplay on Wallis and I saw her role in it. Despite my agent, Ian, declaiming that “painters don’t sell movies”. I’m now hoping that I might plough through the shelves of Wallis material and head towards a script: or perhaps even a radio play!?

Here is a portrait of Wallis and an example of his work.

Unfortunately, Margaret is now 93 years old and has been in failing health for some years but I trust that someday SOON someone will undertake a comprehensive exhibition of her extraordinary range of work.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well personally i'm more of a sketch fan all the way.blogs can give an interesting perspective but still.....cant beat one sketch that will be remembered for years after...