Red WharfArtists

Clive Walley

Clive Walley was born in Cheshire in 1943. After gaining a degree in Engineering at Manchester University, he went on to study for a Dip.Ed. in Maths, Physics and Art in 1965 at the University of Wales in Bangor. In the years that followed, Clive's increased interest in art led to exhibitions of his paintings in a number of one man shows, later branching out into multimedia and film. The resulting films and installations account for most of what reputation he has gathered over the years despite painting being the core inspiration behind all of his work.

1967 Black and White. The first art environment show in Bangor. With two poets Clive collaborated to make a show in the University Gallery which alternated between being a show of painting and sculpture (White) and a lights-out, lock-in poetry reading via hidden speakers (Black). Marshall McLuhan was the text. This show caused understandable controversy because of the, probably illegal, shutting in of the audience..

1968 The Tunnels of Lovely, The second art environment show in Bangor. A redundant University laboratory was completely re-fitted as an “Experience”, deliberately of and for its time. Large numbers of people stumbled, crawled and felt their way through this show and enjoyed it. “Participation with the piece” was the idea.

1974 This is the Life. Clive Walley’s first Artist’s Film. This film was made with the help of a small grant from the Welsh Arts Council. Part of it was shown on TV, (against pressure from the TV Technicians Union) and all of it was shown in the Tate as part of an artists’ film program. It was about the inevitable suppression of the creative spirit – perhaps an autobiographical image.

1982 The Waterfall (Y Rhaeadr). As a result of his previous reputation with the Welsh Arts Council, he was asked to make a short film for S4C, the then new Welsh Channel 4. Y Rhaeadr is a five minute film about the making of a landscape painting.

Painting from 1965 onwards. Although the greater part of Clive’s reputation is derived from his film-making the better part of his inspiration, even for films, is from painting. Between the production of the films mentioned above and during the main film-making period of his creative life, the 80’s and 90’s, he continued to make paintings and to show them. The films are a development from this interest in painting, to him more a way of continuing to paint, than a way of making films.
In order to bring the values of painting to the cinema and TV screen Clive created an unusual animation technique using oils and paints on layers of glass. This provided a way of transferring the sensuous qualities and the working practices of painting directly to the screen. Later, when the special 4D rig was being developed, he finally began to explore the combination of photography and painting as a sort of hybrid medium, but in the beginning there was no intention to let photography have any great effect on the direct result of moving, two-dimensional, paint on the screen.

1987-1989 Quartet. After the modest success of the Waterfall film it became possible to pitch for more TV commissioned moving-paint films. Channel 4 and S4C commissioned the Quartet in 1987 and immediately the first film Prelude won the Rank Award for Best Production on Film at the Celtic Film Festival 1988.
Classical quartet form was the musical starting point which was combined with a desire to experiment with the relationships between music and painting, and between paint and illustration. It was seen on Channel 4 and S4C as a full length TV programme scheduled for a wide viewing public

1989-91 And Now You. With the help of his engineering knowledge he designed and built a new-concept multi-plane rostrum which introduced the effect of infinite forward and reverse camera moves. This is the “special 4D rig” mentioned above. And Now You (1991) was the first film to be made on it, although there was still not enough money to finish the camera traverses on the top before starting work. Consequently the film makes emphatic use of the one effect which was operational, the one for which the new system was intended anyway, moving endlessly into and out of, the painted “tunnels” in front of the camera.
It is about the confinement of the imagination and looks a little like a computer game.

For its originality this new machine earned its very own award. An Invention in Industry Award from the National Eisteddfod of Wales was granted for the rig in 1990!.
In 1991 Clive was solo adjudicator for the Irish Small Works Show.
In 1992 Clive Walley films occupied a whole 4-Mations half hour programme on Channel 4

1991-94 The Divertimenti. Finished in 1994 'Divertimenti' is a unique and beautiful sequence of films where the viewer is taken on a journey into a 4-dimensional abstract and painterly world, where animated brush strokes dance and dart across levels of glass in perfect synchrony with the music. Mostly appearing as abstract shapes and lines, occasionally the paint takes on other forms, metamorphosing into human and pictorial images. The Divertimenti is a sequence of six three minute films made in three intensive years of work with six different composers. A new composer for each film helped to ensure the variety in the series which is now its hall mark.
The “rig” had now got its camera moves fitted to the top and the series is also an exploration of the creative domain that opened up. “The Divertimenti” has been widely exhibited in festivals, galleries and on TV. All six films are now available as downloads.

The films were first seen on TV embedded in a BBC2 program called Space, Time and Paint in 1998, which included footage about the process used to make them. 'The Divertimenti' collected a total of six awards, including the Experimental Film Award at Ottawa. The Divertimenti and the artist are the subject of an extended interview with David Erhlich in Animation Journal March 1999 USA.
In the same year (1995) the Irish Animation Festival hosted a Clive Walley Retrospective.

Light of Uncertainty. Using the methods developed in the making of the Divertimenti (plus back-projection), he made a new ambitious piece for BBC2 and S4C. It was about the use the modern spirit might make of the seventy five year old news from quantum physics, and for the first time made use of specially shot live action material back projected into the multi-plane image.  In March1998. National Film Theatre. Light of Uncertainty, won Best Film at the Cutting Edge at the British Animation Awards.  It was nominated for an award at Bradford Animation Festival in the category “Professional” and appeared at several prestigious International film festivals where the previous work was already well known. It has appeared twice on BBC2; once on its own, and once as part of  “5 films by Clive Walley” along with four of the previous series.
It won Best Animation at Avanca, Portugal, and is the subject of a long article in Filmwaves No.6.

In 2005-6 the film and some of the associated art-work was included in “Space-Tricks” – Zurich and tour. 1999 Vibrant Colour Excites, TV Commercial for Procter & Gamble – Silver World medal, New York Film & Television Advertising Awards and a nominee at the British Animation Awards for Best Advert 2000.

2001 “Measuring Wales”  (A470) Art commission for the Mostyn Art Gallery for tour to Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. An interactive digital Concept-art piece, it was included in a show called “A470”. The visitor to the show could drive themselves down the whole length of the A470, the main route down the length of Wales, at any speed up to that of the RAF jets which are often seen in the skies over Wales. It was immensely popular at both venues arousing much interest in the public and media. It was revived in order to be featured in the exhibition area of the Millenium Centre in Cardiff as part of its opening festivities.

2002  “Adagio” a four minute film, in which the landscape is inhabited by the imagination. Clive always planned to make a trilogy of films, with a classical musical form, which dealt with the spiritual implications of the major intellectual movements of the present time, as identified by him. Light of Uncertainty was the first of these three pieces and indicated his sense of the serious work animation-as-art might aspire to. Unfortunately this “last project” was never realised in its proper form, and this Adagio is a replacement for a more ambitious film would have taken the central place in the final trilogy. It uses the medium of moving paint to suggest the thought processes of the viewer contemplating Nature.

2002  “The Teacup” a solo exhibition in “Five”, a new gallery near Brick Lane in London, which showed one of a set of works made by the artist for distribution on DVD or for show in art spaces. It is called “The Teacup – sixteen watercolours on Bockingford paper”. It brings extra dimensionality to the traditional medium of watercolour painting by a simple engagement with digital techniques. The exhibition also included a retrospective of work made by the artist for TV and the international festival circuit over the previous 10 years.

2006-2009  The New Life (Coda).
The artist has moved to Frome in Somerset and continues to make video work and paintings. The “rig” has been given a new home in the Royal College in London.
Some new paintings have arisen from the experience of the move and a near fatal heart attack in August 2004. They are self portraits of a kind, and restrospective; as if the artist had been given a rare opportunity to see his life as already complete. The latest of these works, 2008, provisionally called “Greeks”, is a fable of the artist’s life on twelve small panels, each made to look like a Greek vase decoration.
New installation work has been the most public feature of the artist’s new life. Having met Michael Bennett, a painter working in Frome, a collaboration has developed which has produced, for three years, an annual video installation (Disciples 2007, Sanctuary 2008, Refuge 2009). Bennett has been producing painterly, but minimal, landscape works in series, and grouping them in large rectangular matrices for exhibition. Each of the video pieces has been a simple translation of these arrays into slow-moving, transcendent visual experiences. The studio, a rehabilitated museum, where Bennett makes these groups is very suitable for public exhibition, so the video has been viewed by the public in the same space, and once at the same scale exactly, as the original paintings. 

They continue this artist’s life-long witness to the ongoing sea-change in our visual sensibility as we move from “old” to “new” media.


External Links

  National Archive of Wales Moving History
  Clive Walley Axis
  Light of Uncertainty Britfilms
  Articles Study Collection
  'Vibrant' award British Council
  big oggle big oggle
  Mel (Ian Mellish) Wikipedia
  Dr Jochen Eisentraut Bangor University
  Refuge Frome Festival


Internal Links


The Divertimenti

Winds & Changes      Love Song      Brushwork      Life Study      Slap Stick      Dark Matter

are now available as downloads


In conversation with Clive Walley

Double DVD

In conversation with Clive Walley

Clive talks about his life, from his early days to
the present. How and where his interest in the arts
and his unique approach to animation originated,
explaining his ideas, motives, production values
and funding for each project and film.

An informal interview with Graham Bowers at the Red Wharf Studio ~ Spring 2008

more ...


In conversation with Clive Walley


Clive Walley

A selection of Clive’s films
capturing painted brushstrokes
in three dimensional animation


more ...


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Select the Links below to view details of Clive and his work



Clive Walley