Film: 9209

Art + Architecture | 1970 | Sound | Colour


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Edward Burra. (1905-1976)

Throughout this film there are interviews with the artist Edward Burra, his sister and a collection of close friends. These are illustrated throughout with close-up and full-length shots of a variety of paintings and some drawings. Burra appears funny and amused at times, sad and rather distracted at others.
The film begins with a short interview with Edward Burra as he sits at his kitchen table. He is about 60-65 years old and very thin. He has long brown hair (just above the shoulder), which is swept back and a receeding hairline. He is wearing a black polar neck jumper. What is visable of the table infront is very cluttered. As Burra talks he spins a coin/bottletop on the table. He has a silver ring on his first finger and his hands are badly affected by arthritis. The film cuts to a long shot of Burra in his garden as he burns some grass/leaves. The garden is fairly overgrown and has trees and a dilapidated wooden barn in the background. Cut to a close-up, head and shoulders, shot of Burra walking through the garden, cigarette in mouth. He carefully descends three steps and continues walking, now facing the camera, with a rather sad/haunted look on his face. He appears to shrug his shoulders as he turns and walks away. The film now cuts to Burra's studio and a full shot of a black and white landscape painting. The shot pans out to reveal Burra slowly mixing paint with a brush. Cut to a close-up shot of his face. He is wearing yellow/orange(NHS)glasses, long strands of hair are visable and he has a cigarette in his mouth. The shot changes to over Burra's shoulder as he paints part of a landscape. His paints and mixing dish are visable around the edge of the frame. Cut to a long shot of a busy gallery exhibition opening night. A short interview follows, a head and shoulders shot, with a male friend present at the exhibition. Cut to three close-up shots, then one full shot of a Burra line/ink drawing. It shows three women in the foreground standing under a street lamp and a truck/small lorry in the background.

The film returns to the exhibition space and an interview with a female friend, aged about 60. She describes some of the art lessons they attended. Various shots of three more line drawings are shown, intersperced with three more interviews with people at the exhibition. These include a head and shoulders shot of a woman, about 60 years old, with white hair pulled back in a bun, wearing red lipstick, large round tortoise shell glasses and a brown paisley patterned dress. The film returns to a shot of Burra sitting in a chair in his living room. A white door is behind him on the left, a red wall behind him on the right. He has a newly lit cigarette in his mouth. He then holds up a colour tinted Victorian photographic postcard of a "Miss Gertie Millar" next to his face and laughs, cigarette still in mouth. A close-up shot follows of his hands as he leafs through other postcards. Cut to a close-up shot on Burra's face, then hands as he holds up a more modern postcard of a glass coca-cola bottle with gold brests added. The film cuts to a long shot of Burra as he leaves his bungalow, an open backed lorry zooms past. The camera follows Burra as he walks down a country road/verge, fields and trees in the background. Cut to a quick shot of Burra in the local shop, goods are piled up around him, including a Cadbury's chocolate powder box with 1p off. The film returns to a shot of Burra in his kitchen, pots and pans are stacked on a sideboard. The camera pans up to reveal Burra, cigarette in mouth, standing next to the stove. He is prodding sausages with a skewer. A blue enamelled kettle sits on the stove, washed plates are visable in the background. Cut to a shot of a very cluttered table, two spirit bottles, food jars and a radio are visable. Burra then sits down at the table with his pan of cooked sausages and pours himself the last of the contents of one of the bottles into his glass. The film then cuts to four close-up then a full length shot of a Burra painting which shows a church wedding. Return to a shot of Burra, this time sitting infront of an off white wall being interviewed, he discusses certain aspects of his life. Burra appears very tired and wary, unable to put together the words to express himself. As he discusses his inability to remember the dates of some paintings he scratches behind his ear with his arthritic hand. The interview continues, with shots of some of his paintings intersperced. He remains sad in appearance, chewing his lip and a nail, but manages to crack a joke about drinking; he allows himself a small smile and laugh. He now grips a glass of whiskey and has a drink, then rests his chin on a hand as he discusses his life before becoming a well-known artist. Three more interviews with two of his friends are now shown, intersperced with images from his paintings they give an inderstanding of his earlier life. The film cuts to a panned shot of the floor of Burra's living room, showing clothes scattered on two armchairs. The shot pans futher to reveal Burra, record in hand, sitting in a chair next to a record player. A close-up shot follows of Burra's hands and face as he puts on a record(Jazz). He is now smoking a cigarette.

Several shots, close-up and full, follow of a painting which shows black men and women dancing. Return to the filmed interview at the kitchen table, white wall as background, jars visable on the cluttered table. Burra smiles and chuckles at some of the answers he gives. His paintings continue to be shown during the interview; including ones which appear to be based on war. The film now cuts to show Burra entering the platform of a train station through a half opened door: He waits on the platform. Cut to a shot of Burra in London with a friend as they enter The Winsor Castle Pub/Club, Harrow Road. A shot pans across the stage inside, starting on a painting which shows Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II as if members of the audience. Cut to a close-up shot on the face of a transvestite entertainer; wearing a short black wig, lots of eye make-up and large jewelary. Several panned and still shots follow of the audience, including Burra; cigarette in mouth, drinks on the table infront. Film returns to the interview at the kitchen table as he discusses living in the countryside. Panned shots of both city and country landscape paintings follow. Burra discusses roads in the countryside over images from several relevant paintings. Return to shots of the gallery exhibition and futher interviews with his old friends who try to explain his character. Cut to a shot of Burra, again sitting at his kitchen table, as he laughs and wipes his eye with a hand. He laughs again, a wheezing sound, eyes clenched shut, smiling.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 9209.