The Lost Film

isherwood-posing-for-the-film-camerasIn the early 1970s, Jim Isherwood was delighted and couldn’t wait to tell anyone who would listen that the TV people would soon be arriving in Wigan to make a film about his life and his art.

It was true. The BBC producer Douglas Boys, who liked the artist’s work, had come up with the half hour film with the title “I am Isherwood.”

The film crew and Mr Boyd arrived to be amazed at the artistic chaos 151 Wigan Lane where Isherwood had created thousands of paintings, most on hardboard.

The film had all the ingredients of success from day one – an eccentric artist, a huge selection of colourful paintings, a story of a life collapsed following a mother’s death.

Isherwood had his cloak cleaned – and before long his image was being captured in the grounds of Haigh Hall, in the Christmas atmosphere of Wigan’s open air market, and talking, painting and smoking in his cluttered living room.

img26The film was a great success, so much so that within a year, it was broadcast a second time. It’s “I am Isherwood” title was adopted by the artist for the remainder of his life.
Douglas Boyd’s film captured the very essence of Isherwood’s artistic life and brought the painter many admiring fans.

The film was made just before the widespread arrival of video recorders and for 25 years, the family and art lovers have searched in vain to find a copy of “I am Isherwood.” Searches in television video libraries have drawn a complete blank, and the only film of Isherwood is on flickering standard-eight film where he is seen at a distance walking in the grounds of King’s College in Cambridge with “Mother Lily.”