Film ID:
NEFA 10983

CLOSE UP: NORMAN CORNISH IN PARIS

1966

Visitor Tabs

Description

An incomplete Tyne Tees Television documentary which follows the 47-year-old Spennymoor artist Norman Cornish as he visits Paris. Norman Cornish had just given up his job as a miner and was starting out as a professional artist. The film follows Cornish around Paris through the eyes of a northern artist. As well as the programme itself, the surviving reel contains additional footage of the visit to Paris.

The film opens with Norman Cornish coming along a snowy track past with the Dean and Chapter colliery in the near distance. He stops and looks across the scene. General views of the colliery with smoke billowing from a chimney and the pit head wheel. Norman opens a sketchbook, takes out a pen from his pocket and begins to draw the scene. The film cuts to a view of one of his paintings showing a miner climbing a set of steps leading towards a colliery pithead wheel. This is followed by views of a number of his other a sketches and paintings of similar scenes. There is a close up of a painting showing miners inside a pit cage followed another piece of two miners bent over walking underground.

The film cuts to a jet aeroplane on the runway of an airport. On board Norman fastens his seatbelt ready for take-off. In the cockpit the pilot and co-pilot sit at the controls. From the airport outdoor viewing area, the aircraft takes off. In his seat next to two older women Norman sketches, while beside him a stewardess collects empty plates and trays from other passengers. Norman sketches an older gentleman who is sitting across from him. With the sketch finished he passes it to the man who smiles.

A large sign above a building reads ‘Aeroport De Paris’. Inside the terminal Norman looks up at an arrivals/departure board. He then looks at a transport map for Paris.

The film cuts to a phantom car ride along a busy Paris boulevard with the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. The camera pans right from three men sitting on a bench to a view of the Arc de Triomphe nearby.

Norman leans against a lamppost outside the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The film cuts to show him walking through the Tuileries Gardens past the many statues there. A young couple embrace under one of the statues and kiss.

The film cuts back to a path near to Notre-Dame Cathedral. A man sleeps with his head on the shoulder of a woman who is looking through a comic book.

The film cuts to the roof the Arc de Triomphe where a small group look out across the city skyline. The Eiffel Tower can be seen in the middle distance.

Another phantom car ride through the streets of Paris follows. They pass two workmen working on an awning for the café Le Metro and come to a stop behind a ‘Sapep’ delivery van which is parked in the middle of the road. A road signs reads ‘Rue Des Martyrs’ followed by a view of a long set of steps leading up to a street above. More general views of Parisian buildings seen from the moving car.

Along a cobbled street outside La Mere Catherine, Norman Cornish walks past a number of artists working on their paintings.  Norman hands his sketchbook to a man wearing a tweed hat and they are seen discussing his work with a third man.

Norman looks at a small display of paintings. He walks towards the La Bonne Franquette restaurant out of which comes a young couple hand in hand. Close up of a plaque above the door about Van Gogh. Norman begins to sketch the building as the camera moves in for a close up of his face. General views of a number of Norman’s Paris sketches.

The film changes to show Norman coming down the steps in front of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, or Sacre Coeur, and looks out across the city below.

The film changes again to show Norman Cornish coming through a set of glass doors onto a street. He looks up at a stone carving of miners in a plinth built into the wall of a building.

Around the corner of a terraced street back home in Spennymoor comes Norman Cornish holding a newspaper in his hand. He steps inside number 33 and closes the door. Sitting at a table he flicks through a sketchbook. There are views of a number of his sketches.  

Back in Paris people sit at tables outside a café drinking, talking and relaxing as other pedestrians walk past. The film cuts to show a woman painting a street scene in oils. Another woman draws a building with pencil.

[Blank section]

From the roof of the Arc de Triomphe views across the Paris skyline. The film changes to show a woman outside a building leaning against a metal frame reading a newspaper.

At a road intersection a policeman directs traffic as pedestrians cross. Leaning against a lamppost Norman sketches the scene.

Another phantom car ride through the streets of Paris. They pass an older man walking across the street with the help of a walking stick. The film changes to show Norman sketching people sitting on park benches. Another policeman is filmed directing traffic. He gives directions to a bus driver. Sitting at a small table nearby Norman sketches the policeman. At a road intersection Norman sketches an older man with a walking stick as he waits to cross the road.

Along an embankment Norman looks over a stall selling prints of well know Paris scenes. There is a brief view of him sketching a figure that also features the Eiffel Tower before cutting to show women carrying wicker baskets walking past a display of fruit outside a shop. A fishmonger with a cigarette hanging from his mouth sorts and arranges fish in boxes. Outside a busy café a waiter brings a bottle of wine to table while another goes back inside carrying a tray of empty cups. At a busy road intersection three people watch the traffic before crossing the road. A bus drives past. A man wearing a beret buys a newspaper from a kiosk.

The film cuts to show a number of workmen digging up a pavement. Across the street leaning against a stone structure Norman stands sketching the men and explaining to a Parisian woman why he’s doing it, he finds them very interesting. The film ends with a brief shot of Norman standing by a statue in Tuileries Gardens flicking through his sketchbook.