Film: 9235

Art + Architecture | 1960 | Sound | B/W


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Kenneth Armitage.(b1916)
This film follows the artist, Kenneth Armitage, as he makes his sculpture; The Girl Without a Face. He talks about this and other already completed work. A foundry in Paris where many artists sent their plaster sculptures to be cast in bronze is filmed. The narrator also adds information about the artists life and work.

The film begins with a shot of the artist, Kenneth Armitage, as he walks down a side/back street, towards the camera in London,England. There are buildings/work premises on the left of the screen and a tattered old fence on the right. The path/road stretches quite far back and a housing estate(?) can be seen in the background. Just behind the artist a man in a flat cap can be seen leading a horse out of an arched doorway on the left. The artist is about 34/40 years old, he has short, dark hair and is clean shaven. He is wearing a 3/4 length dark coat with the collars up, his hands are in his coat pockets. As he nears the camera he takes a set of keys out of his pocket and turns towards a large arched wooden door. He then unlocks an eye-height padlock, opens one of the doors and walks in. The camera now shows Armitage inside the building, closing the door behind him. He then walks through a large archway into a, brick built, whitewashed room/studio space. In appearence it is cold, sparse and undecorated. The camera follows Armitage as he continues walking through the space, unbuttoning his coat as he does so. A white (plaster) sculpture, fairly abstract, of three figures can also be seen. He continues walking past the camera and up some stairs. The camera cuts to show the half-lit wooden stairs as Armitage walks up them. He can be seen walking up the stairs as the camera shoots from below, then underneath. Cut to a shot of Armitage as he walks into a studio room. Narrative reference is made to Armitage's early training at The Slade School of Art. He walks to the end of the room towards a partly glass panneled door at the far end and takes of his coat, putting it on a chair. There is a plaster splattered stool and step-ladder in the foreground, shelves and cupboards line the walls in the midground and a chest of drawers and sink can be seen in the background. Cut to a close-up shot of the artist as he opens a box-shaped record-player and picks up a small record. He looks at the record, puts it on the player, moves the needle across and closes the lid. Cut to a shot of three small sculptural forms, one of which appears to be a seated figure. A ghost/mask like sculpture can also be seen behind. Cut to a close-up shot, head, shoulders and arms, of a figurative but abstract sculpture. Cut to a long shot of a bronze sculpture of a woman. She is standing but with her head bent and her arms covering/reaching over her head. There are several lengths of wood/wooden pole and a broom leaning against the white-washed brick wall in the background. Cut to a close-up, head to waist, shot of the same sculpture. A panned shot follows begining on the figures feet, which follows up the length of the body. A still shot follows of a small bronze figurative sculpture. This figure is seated with it's arms and legs thrust out infront. A quick, close-up, panned shot of this sculpture follows. Cut to shots of a series of photographs depicting 1950's life. The first shows a group of young school children, wearing shorts, blazers and caps, sitting on some sort of open cart/bus. The second shows a group of six women and a man on a fair ground ride. The following two photographs show holiday makers, all clothed, on a beach. Some are sitting in deck chairs, others against a sea wall. A still shot follows of a fairly abstract, reclining female figure, similar in possition to one of the people lying on the beach.

Cut to a panned shot of four ragged looking children standing on a cobbled street. The camera pans up to reveal lines of washing hanging between two rows of terraced houses above the street. More houses can be seen in the background, and apart from the children the streets are empty. Shots follow of three similar photographs. The film now cuts to five moving shots of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol. The film is taken from two different angles. Shots follow of several other examples of Armitage's sculpture. Cut to a long shot of the artist in a second, similar studio. He is now wearing a plaster splattered over shirt. Cut to a close-up shot, from behind, of the artists head and one shoulder. Infront of him is a selection of pictorial ideas pinned on the wall. Cut to a close-up of a charcoal drawing, on white paper, inspired by one of these images. It is similar to a letterbox in appearence. A futher close-up follows as Armitage adds to the drawing with a large stick of charcoal. Cut to a shot of the artists face as he looks down at the drawing. The shot continues as he puts a cigarette in his mouth and inhales. Cut to a still shot of a letterbox, houses can be seen in the background. A panned shot follows of the finished sculpture; The Girl Without A Face. A female figure who wears a hat, but has a large, square gaping hole where her face should be. Cut to film of Armitage at work in his studio. It is very sparse, with a sink along the back wall. Armitage, who now also wears an apron, is applying plaster from a bowl onto the frame of a sculpture, with his hands. He then puts the bowl down onto a table and puts in some scrim, covering it in plaster. A close-up shot follows, as he applies the scrim and plaster to the sculpture. A long shot follows as Armitage stands the metal, plaster covered, frame of the sculpture up on a table. He continues adding and flicking plaster onto the frame. Cut to a long shot of Armitage still in the studio. He is also now wearing a beret and smoking a cigarette. He is now adding chicken wire to a larger section of the sculpture. A stool and a table can be seen in the background. Close-up shots follow on his hands as he holds the wire and on his face as he smokes a cigarette. He now adds plaster with his hands to the wire and scrim base. Cut to a long shot of the sculpture; The Girl Without A Face, which is now almost finished. Armitage is standing next to it. Several close-up shots follow as he files, with a cheese grater, and chisels away at the plaster. Shots follow of eight/nine small bronze sculptures. They are figurative, but fairly abstract in appearence, and are set on plinths in a gallery type space. The film now cuts to images of the Zoose/Souse(?) foundry in Paris, where sculptures are cast in bronze. A man pushes a wheelbarrow through some open doors infront of the camera and into a large, open plan space. Several men can be seen working at tables in the background. A plaster sculpture by Armitage can be seen lying on a table at the back of the foundry. Cut to several shots, both still and panned, of the craftsmen as they work on some sculptures, including Armitage's, before they are cast in bronze.

Cut to several shots of the work men as they hold ropes controlling the pouring of liquid bronze into a pan. A close-up shot follows of the pan. Several shots follow of the men as they opperate pullies, they all wear flat caps and one smokes a cigarette. The melted bronze is then poured from the bucket into a second container. A man, possibly Armitage, looks on. He is smoking a cigarette and has a second cigarette behind his ear. Cut to several shots, both full and close-up of Armitage as he makes futher adjustments to the sculpture; The Girl Without A Face. He is wearing his beret and smoking a cigarette and is again in his London studio. Cut to a shot, from the floor looking up, as Armitage works on the sculpture with a chisel. Cut to a long shot of the finished plaster sculpture standing on a low base in his studio. A panned shot follows up the length of this sculpture. Cut to a panned shot of the room/studio with this and other sculptures visable.

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