Index Page Prior Record Next Record


Film ID  ACE180
Article 
Title  Winifred Nicholson. Not Nailed Down
Series  Five Women Painters
Part  1
Date  1988
Director  Teresa Grimes
Production Company  Paintbrush
Synopsis  The work of British landscape and flower painter, Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981).
Minutes  26 min
Choreographer 
Full synopsis  ACE180.2 (00:00:00 - 00:08:36)
Mother of pearl shell; VO of Winifred Nicholson talking about Byam Shaw, her art school tutor, being disapproving of the colours she was using to paint such a shell. Artist mixing paints on palette. VO talking about the changeable nature of colours though “for a long time they have been nailed down like carpets.” Paintings including Honeysuckle and Sweet Peas (c.1945-1946), while commentary describes her as “a joyful experimenter with colour” and as “an important painter who has been overlooked”. Winifred Nicholson interviewed in 1980: “Colours make me want to paint. To jump for joy.” Photographs of Nicholson. Judy Collins, The Tate Gallery, saying Winifred Nicholson wasn’t as famous as her husband, Ben, “because she didn’t court fame”. Collins says that when both became recognised as part of the British Modern movement, he asked her to change her name, and she painted as Winifred Dacre. Photographs. Collins VO gives brief career details, and talks about starting her researches on Nicholson’s work. Exterior and interiors Banks Head, the Nicholsons’ house in Cumbria. Nicholson’s description over. Landscapes including view of house over fields; painting of same view, The Swaites (1923). Photograph of country lane; painting of similar view. Collins talks about her researches and being shown a letter from the 1960s in which Nicholson said “I never date my work, I never sign my work and I never give my work titles, because if I did, what would it leave the art historian to do.” Donald Wilkinson shows painting of wild flowers on Iona which has the painting The Red Flower Pot (1930) on the back. Collins talking about letters written by Nicholson in response to requests for information in which she claims that such information is not important. Photographs of Winifred and Ben Nicholson. Winifred’s words over talking about meeting Ben. Painting showing the location of the Villa Capriccio Castagnola, on Lake Lugano. Photographs of Winifred. Nicholson’s VO talking about “a flowering point” in their painting; Mughetti (1922), painting of a pot of Lily of the valley given her by Ben. Cyclamen and Primula (1922). Collins VO talking about Nicholson’s “favourite composition” of a vase or pot of flowers in front of a window space overlooking hills or mountains (no middle ground) and quoting Nicholson as writing that she tried to “toss the light and the colours like a shuttlecock” between foreground and background . Paintings including Moss Roses and White Campanulas at Burwash (1937) and Narcissi in a Grey Pot.

ACE180.3 (00:08:36 - 00:16:34)
Paintings with commentary quoting Nicholson’s description of colours as “halts in the river of light” and saying that she tried to capture these moving colours which is one reason she painted fast. Donald Wilkinson describes Nicholson as painting fast but having thought a good deal about the subject first. Susie Honnor and Andy Christian: Honnor talks about Nicholson making pea-pod soup. Wilkinson talking about Nicholson’s sense of humour; her relationship with children, her “playing to win”. Domestic subjects including The Warwick Family (1925-1926). Christian talks about Nicholson and her children, and about Ben Nicholson leaving her and their family; photographs. Berries in Window, Night, Fishbourne (1931-1932) Mughetti. Nicholson words VO talking about this painting as being “the idea of marriage” she had. Painting (Starry Eyed, 1927) and photographs of Ben and baby; VO commenting on Ben’s ideas for their “new relationship”. Film and photographs of Paris to where Winifred moved with her children. Le Quai d’Auteuil (1932-1933). Photographs of the children; film of Paris. Collins VO talking about Nicholson’s contacts with Brancusi, Mondrian, Giacometti, etc., and her “acting as a significant link” between developments in Paris and London. Nicholson’s words VO, talking about “years of inspiration”. Photographs of Bauhaus chairs, and contemporary pottery and buildings. Gouache of Cyclamen and Primula; more and more abstract versions of same, 1935-1936; Nicholson’s words VO talking about art becoming “functional”. Untitled (1935-1936) and two abstracts. Nicholson talking in 1976 about the new idea that “you didn’t need to just copy like a photograph” or paint something “the colours that it was”; abstract painters dealt with “the spaces in between”. Sun Circles (1936 and 1970). Nicholson interview. She talks about “the Abstract people” keeping to themselves: “they wouldn’t speak to the Surrealists”. Views from moving trains. Nicholson’s words VO talking about her time in France and “saying goodbye”, not just for herself “but for the whole world”. Caption: “1939”.

ACE180.4 (00:16:34 - 00:25:50)
Collins and colleague examining Shepherd (1936). Collins VO talking about the exhibition being mounted covering Nicholson’s career and showing that she was more than “just a flower painter”. Exhibits. Honeysuckle and Sweet Peas (c.1945-1946). Tate Gallery condition report. Collins VO saying that Nicholson formed the style of the Seven and Five Society. Paintings being packed for transport. Collins VO talking about height at which pictures should be hung. Photographs of Nicholson’s grandparents (George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle and his wife) and Castle Howard. Christian explaining that her private income meant she was never under pressure to sell paintings which gave her great autonomy. Collins on Nicholson’s exhibitions; labels on the backs of one or two paintings. Collins talking about Nicholson not signing her work and about the importance to her of her family. Family subjects including Kate and Jake, at the Isle of Wight (1931-1932) and Bathtime (1934). Honnor describing conversations she had with Nicholson about relationships. Paris Light (1933-1934). Wilkinson VO talking about Nicholson liking rainbows. Photographs of rainbow effects. Paintings. Wilkinson says Nicholson would ask “what sort of orange?” and “how would you paint that red and the violet?”, the latter being “a very important colour to her”. View from window. Eigg, Candle (1980). Wilkinson says he would telephone Nicholson to tell her about rainbows he saw. More photographs and painting of rainbow effects. A rainbow. Collins talking about Nicholson looking at the rainbow “as a sort of colour lesson”. Flower Table (1938-1939), etc. Collins on Nicholson and Christian Science, and her ability to experience joy. The Gate to the Isles (1980). Hebridean Roses, Eigg (1980). Glimpse Upon Waking (1976). Photographs of Nicholson. Paintings. Nicholson filmed in 1976 through the window of her house. Interior of the house. Photographs of Nicholson. Christian talking about her optimism, and the excitement she found in life. Sooke Valley (c.1930). Nicholson’s words VO: “The picture will always be there… If it is a true picture, I shall never grow tired of it… However familiar I have grown with it, I shall not come to the end of its friendship.” Nicholson drinking tea. Credits.

Full credits  Winifred’s voice, Anna Cropper; Interviewees Andy Christian, Judy Collins, Susie Honnor, Donald Wilkinson; Camera Belinda Parsons, Carolyn Sandys; Sound Matthew Evans; Editing Anne Sopel, Margaret Barrett; Music composed by Elaine Streeter; Rostrum camera Frameline; Film Research David Collier; Dubbing Mixer Peter Hodges; Photographs courtesy of Donald Wilkinson. The producers would like to thank the Nicholson family for their help in the making of this film. We would also like to thank Michael Chase, Aldyth Crowther, Miriam Gabo, Amy Little, Elvira Powell, Karen Rose, Robin Murray, Sandy Murray, Nan Thompson Valerie Thornton, Helen Beguin The Tate Gallery; Associate Producer Ruth Pantoleon; Executive Produce Rodney Wilson; Producer Steve Garvey; Director Teresa Grimes. A Paintbrush Production for the Arts Council of Great Britain in association with Channel 4 Television. © Arts Council of Great Britain MCMLXXXVIII.
Watch segments  ACE180.2 (00:00:00 - 00:08:36)
ACE180.3 (00:08:36 - 00:16:34)
ACE180.4 (00:16:34 - 00:25:50)
Watch movie 

Created by the School of Informatics, University of Westminster

Copyright 2007 Arts on Film Archive
For all copy right enquires please contact Arts Council England