Alfred Wallis paintings from Kettle’s Yard at Cambridge will go on show at King’s Lynn Festival

Alfred Wallis' 'Brigantine sailing past green fields' (n.d.). Picture: 'Kettle's Yard, University of

Alfred Wallis' 'Brigantine sailing past green fields' (n.d.). Picture: 'Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge' - Credit: 'Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge'

The temporary closure for renovation of a high-profile Cambridge art gallery has given King's Lynn Festival a rare opportunity to stage an exhibition of paintings by a much-admired artist and mariner.

Kettle's Yard at the University of Cambridge has the largest collection of work by Alfred Wallis and a substantial number of his pictures will form this summer's Lynn Festival exhibition.

His work will be going on show in the Fermoy Gallery at Lynn Arts Centre from July 16 to 29.

Wallis was born in Devonport in 1855 and later claimed to have gone to sea at the age of nine.

He worked on schooners which sailed across the Atlantic between Penzance and Newfoundland.

He moved to St Ives in 1885 where he established himself as a marine stores dealer, buying and selling scrap iron, ropes and sails.

He took up painting late in life following the death of his wife Susan in 1922. He was self-taught and had never had an art lesson in his life.

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He painted from memory from his experiences, depicting the sailing ships he had seen at sea, in harbour and wrecked as well as houses and landscapes. Wallis knew the nautical world was changing fast, as steam took over from sail.

Having little money, he often painted on sheets of cardboard ripped from boxes, using cheap paint bought from marine chandlers.

Jim Ede, the creator of Kettle's Yard, began collecting Wallis's paintings in the late 1920s having been introduced to the artist by British modernists Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, who held Wallis in high esteem.

Festival chairman Alison Croose said: 'We are delighted that Kettle's Yard at Cambridge University is so keen to give Lynn Festival this rare chance to feature Alfred Wallis's work. 'With the support of an anonymous sponsor Lynn Festival will be staging an exhibition of great interest and with a most appropriate title for the Wash port – Ships and Boats.'

King's Lynn Festival runs from July 16 - 29. Festival brochures will be available in March, priority booking for patrons opens on April 3, and friends on April 10. General booking starts on April 24. The box office is at Lynn Corn Exchange on 01553 764864. For more go on line to

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