Read four different short extracts written by 4 people about one topic. Then answer 7 questions about who said what.
The story focuses on the romantic triangle of the wild and bohemian Lamorna Group, dominated by the charismatic British artist and president of the Royal Academy Alfred Munnings; Florence Carter-Wood the aspiring artist who was to become his wife; and their friend Gilbert Evans. Young, puckish Munnings, played by the energetic Dominic Cooper, is a wild-man painter who rails against abstract art and declaims poetry in a loud voice before calling for more drinks, ruling the roost in an early 20th-Century artists’ colony in the raw beautiful seaside of Cornwall. Florence, played by a delicate, tentative Emily Browning, is a delicate plant from a good home who seems to know her own mind but is a little out of her depth with the bohemians she’s thrown in with. And Gilbert, a fellow blue-blood played by Dan Stevens, is just a right chap.
This film plangently evokes a corner of British art and social history in that last golden moment before the First World War. It delivers what some may see as an unnecessary kick to an artist whose critical reputation is already on the floor, although not his prices. Yet it puts on the map a woman who aspired to break from the gilded cage, but who fell victim to a combination of class, convention, sexual ignorance and male chauvinism.
Munnings lived in the small village of Lamorna, known for its wonderfully scenic cove. At Newlyn he met his first wife Florence and became firm friends with other modern British artists, including Laura and Harold Knight, Dod and Ernest Procter and Samuel John ‘Lamorna’ Birch.
In Alfred Munnings Reading, Harold Knight depicts Munnings in a sun-drenched, outdoor setting in which the flamboyant, extrovert young artist, known as ‘AJ’, enacts a dramatic reading for his contemporaries and friends. Readings, as understood from Laura Knight’s memoirs, were, like amateur theatricals, a popular pastime in the artist community at Lamorna. Munnings’ magnetism meant that he was often the centre of attention and for Laura he was ‘the stable, the artist, the poet, the very land itself!’
A delicately rendered landscape in watercolour entitled The Moor testifies to the fact that Florence Carter Wood came to Cornwall to study art. This image, a rare canvas by the aspiring painter, is the first of many visual delights which offer an intimate look into the lives of the Lamorna artists and their friends during the closing years of the Edwardian era. ‘Lamorna Cove’ below, by one of the earliest residents of the valley, Samuel ‘Lamorna’ Birch, is undated yet conveys the atmosphere of an era of innocence which was soon to disappear forever.
The exhibition was opened by Jonathan Smith, who has written the screenplay for the film adaptation as well. First, in 1995 the book came out by Smith portraying a very visual story where he added in some real dialogues from the original letter Gilbert Evans kept from his youth. When Smith read them, the story unveiled.
The privilege to be allowed to have such a telling glimpse into Edwardian artistic and social background in such an impressive exhibition was due mainly to Gilbert Evans.
Gilbert’s letters sketched in the love-story with typical British reticence but were brought to life with touching keepsakes such as a tiny photo, tenderly kept jay and woodcock feathers, which clearly had an emotional significance to Gilbert, rapid sketches of Florence as well as fine paintings of her riding side-saddle and hidden portraits behind other framed pictures.
When it comes to the screen adaptation, whereas the film is primarily a love story, the book is only incidentally so. Translation into another medium requires radical restructuring and change of emphasis, but by simplifying you run the risk of coarsening or dumbing down. In fact, the film adheres fairly closely to the book’s narrative, though it has to dispense with much of the particularity.
Alfred Munnings was born on 8 October 1878 at Mendham Mill, Suffolk to Christian parents. His father was the miller and Alfred grew up surrounded by the activity of a busy working mill with horses and horse-drawn carts arriving daily. After leaving Framingham College at the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to a Norwich printer, designing and drawing advertising posters for the next six years, attending the Norwich School of Art in his spare time. When his apprenticeship ended, he became a full-time painter. The loss of sight in his right eye in an accident in 1898 did not deflect his determination to paint, and in 1899 two of his pictures were shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
1) The past determined the artist.
2) Inspired by a journal.
3) A rebel artist who drove away those around by damning modern art.
4) Different portrayals of the story.
5) Expresses an opinion.
6) The landscape evokes the same feeling as the original.
7) The artist gained an important position.
8) Makes interesting comments on the research.