Edith Collier (Documentary)
|When:||Friday, 9 November 2012|
|Where:||The Film Archive, Wellington|
|Running time:||128 minutes|
Join us for two acclaimed documentaries about early 20th New Zealand painter Edith Collier, by director Michael Heath. Both films had sell-out screenings the New Zealand International Film Festivals in 2007 and 2012 where they had their World Premieres - we're thrilled to present both films together for the first time.
Director Michael Heath will be present to introduce the screening on Friday 9 November.
Edith Collier: A Light Among Shadows
65 mins, 2007
Paying tribute to the woman recognised as one of our greatest modern painters, Edith Collier: A Light Among Shadows is a very human and expressionistic journey of Collier's way of seeing the world. Whanganui-bred Collier left for London in her late 20s to study art; her painting developed as she experimented with modernism alongside fellow expat Frances Hodgkins. She returned home after the first world war to family life, and ridicule for her art. A story about provincial New Zealand almost 100 years ago… A Light Among Shadows is a powerful metaphor for the young artist of day dealing with cultural identity and rejection.
"One of New Zealand's most talented yet underrated artists, Edith Collier (1885-1964) was, sadly, a victim of her times. Born in Wanganui at a time when the town was still in the grip of profound and stultifying Victorianism, she suddenly found herself in an exciting milieu of new ideas and experimentation when she escaped to study in England. In this fertile environment she created many exquisite paintings in the new Modernist style (Frances Hodgkins was one of her admirers), but when her father, who felt she was wasting her time and costing too much to support, summoned her home, she had no option but to return. Being back in her home environment was crushing for her, as people had no understanding of her work, and, tragically, Collier chose to give up painting as a result. Michael Heath's film tells Collier's story with sensitivity and respect, and includes much of her extraordinarily beautiful work. It is not only a fitting eulogy to a remarkable artist, but an affecting tale of cultural identity and rejection." New Zealand Film Festival program, 2007
Village by the Sea
61 minutes, 2012
In March 2012 director Michael Heath, was commissioned by The Edith Collier Trust in Whanganui, and travelled with cinematographer Stephen Latty to Ireland in March to make a companion film to Light Among Shadows.
Edith Collier and colleagues spent two summers in 1914-15, at the beginning of the First World War, living in the small, coastal village of Bunmahon, capturing, with astonishing clarity, the beauty of the Irish land and seascapes, its tumble-down cottages, and the poor peasant community, both young and old.
With its pervasive feeling of nostalgia and melancholy, the Village by the Sea uses traditional Irish music and an elegaic, contemplative style to reveal the beauty of Edith Collier’s work inspired by the magical land of Southern Ireland.
"In this gentle documentary Michael Heath follows up his earlier Edith Collier portrait (NZIFF07) to transport us to the Irish fishing village of Bunmahon where the New Zealand artist painted during the summers of 1914 and 1915. The beautifully shot landscapes – silver sea, misty green hills and radiant lilac skies – are interspersed with Collier’s painted versions. The camera leads us down leafy lanes and past derelict farmhouses at a contemplative pace in keeping with the quality of Collier’s work. Scored throughout with traditional Irish folk music, the film is a quiet exploration of the beauty of this seaside town, seen through a brush and a camera lens. Although Collier’s Bunmahon residency was a century ago, interviews with locals reveal a strong connection to this Antipodean painter. To their disappointment, her work has never been exhibited in Ireland: Collier returned to New Zealand with the sketches and paintings, and gradually abandoned her artistic dream. This melancholy-tinged story pays tribute to an under-acknowledged artist and the continued legacy of her work." Jo Randerson, New Zealand Film Festival program 2012