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.