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Assembled Memories: Jack B. Yeats, 1871-1957

Director: Thaddeus O'Sullivan


Rarely screened since the early 1980s, this under-discussed film offers a visual biographical essay on one of Ireland’s leading painters of the twentieth century. O’Sullivan’s subject was a London-born Irish artist whose creative and personal journey mirrors that of the filmmaker. Yeats trained at art school in west London, and his early career was as an illustrator for a number of London newspapers. His painting developed through specific stages, from figurative landscapes/scenes to more abstract work. Researched and written by O’Sullivan, the film skilfully combined a number of different creative treatments to bring the director’s subject alive on screen. Its effect is to produce an engaging audio-visual montage, through which is woven a twin-narration of voice-over tracks. The film is an auto/biographical visual essay that expresses O’Sullivan’s understanding of Yeats’ views on the nature of art and creativity. The central notion here, providing O’Sullivan’s film with its title, is the relationship between art and memory, for Yeats claims that “no one creates … the artist assembles memories”. 

Notes by Lance Pettitt. 

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