Lord Peter Melchett

We are very sad to lean of the death today (31st August 2018) of Peter Melchett, a major mover and shaker in environmentalism and a lifelong campaigner in so many crucial issues geared towards making this planet a better, safer and more sustainable place. He was also an important contributor to our new film on photographer Fay Godwin, not only opening her Barbican Gallery retrospective exhibition but also giving us a substantial interview on Godwin’s life and work.

Peter Melchett at Courtyard Farm, Ringstead Norfolk (May 2013)

There is a Guardian obituary for Peter Melchett here.

Peter Melchett discusses Fay Godwin’s book Our Forbidden Land from the Malachite production Don’t Fence Me In

Peter Melchett and his partner Cassandra Wedd attended the launch screening of Don’t Fence Me In at the British Library on 11th January 2018, and afterwards wrote some kind words about the film ‘We loved the film - I really do congratulate you on a wonderful job. It captured Fay’s passion and her extraordinary range of work brilliantly. Needless to say, I was delighted that her strong views on public access, the countryside and the environment more generally were so well represented in the film, particularly given how much you had to cover!'

Goodbye Dennis Creffield

Sadly, Dennis Creffield died on the morning of 26th June 2018; he was 87. We made two films with Dennis; one was the ‘Narrative' episode of our series Looking into Paintings, made for Channel 4 in collaboration with The Open University, in which he was the featured artist. We later filmed him as he worked on his commission to draw all the cathedrals of England.

In this extract from Looking into Paintings - Narrative, Dennis Creffield vividly expresses his views on how best to appreciate paintings, by quietly staying in front of them, and letting them come to you.

Dennis Creffield - East Anglian Cathedrals

Snape Maltings 8th June - 15th July 2018

Sadly Dennis Creffield died on 26th June; he was 87.

In 1987, commissioned by the Arts Council to draw all 26 medieval cathedrals of England, Dennis Creffield embarked on an epic 10,000-mile journey around England: “No artist has ever before drawn all the English medieval cathedrals – not even Turner. I’ve dreamed of doing so since I was a student.” 

This year the Aldeburgh Festival celebrates Creffield’s achievement with a selection of his charcoal drawings in the Concert Hall Gallery. An extract from the Malachite film ‘The Invisible Recorder’ will be shown, in which Creffield re-visits Peterborough, Ely and Norwich cathedrals; DVDs of the film are available for sale in the Gallery Shop.

Gillian Ayres abstract painter 1930-2018

The wonderful Gillian Ayres, abstract painter, died on 11th April 2018 at the age of 88.

We were lucky enough to have made a short film with her back in 1985, when she was living and working in a remote farmhouse on the Llŷn peninsula in north Wales. She was like a 'mother earth' figure, and insisted on putting up our crew of six overnight and feeding us a delicious dinner with lashings of wine and a hearty breakfast. This was part of Looking into Paintings, a Channel Four series made in collaboration with the Open University.

There is an excellent Guardian obituary of her here.

Patrick Reyntiens - Reyntiens Revels

When we launched An Empty Stage, our John Piper film profile, at the Goldmark Gallery, as luck would have it one of our audience was John Reyntiens, son of stained glass artist Patrick Reyntiens (and himself a noted stained glass maker). John said that he loved our Piper film and would we please make a film about his father Patrick, who had been an important collaborator with Piper. And so our next project was born.

In fact, we both already knew Patrick Reyntiens; Charles had met him through a mutual friend and Libby had interviewed him in 2007 for her film about Frank Brangwyn’s stained glass; he also appeared in our John Piper film. We actually began filming the Reyntiens film profile in November 2009 at Cochem in Germany and, as with the Piper film, Libby Horner maintained a blog throughout the vicissitudes of the filmmaking process which you can read here

John Piper - Piper Papers

We began working on An Empty Stage, our film profile of John Piper on 28 April 2008, and the film was finally launched on 27 September 2009. At every stage of work on the film, Libby wrote a blog entry detailing the ups and downs of the filmmaking process, a total of 67 entries. You can view the blog here

A Film-maker’s Odyssey


Filmmaker and Anthropologist Toni de Bromhead’s new book has just been published by Intervention Press. The book explores de Bromhead’s filmmaking over more than 30 years, from her super 8 work whilst studying at the National Film & Television School through 16mm film series for Channel 4 TV to digital video projects in Sicily today. The book includes a DVD with more than a dozen film clips and was edited, designed and authored by us at Malachite.

The book will have its official UK launch at the Royal Anthropological Institute on Monday 2nd February, introduced by Colin Young, former director of NFTS.

DVDs or Downloads?

Here at Malachite we are great enthusiasts of DVDs. increasingly however, the future is moving towards downloads, as has happened in the music business. Video editing and training guru Larry Jordan, based in Los Angeles, has recently posted an interesting article ‘Rethinking DVDs’ about all this which you can access here. Malachite’s Charles Mapleston has contributed a comment to his piece:

My background is making long-form documentaries, originally for the BBC and, back in the day, shot on 16mm film. In those days, making programmes for a fixed broadcast time slot, we often had to “murder our darlings” – favourite scenes which didn’t quite fit the narrative or which had to be excised for length ended up “on the cutting room floor”.

What I’ve always particularly loved about DVDs was that at last all those scenes on the cutting room floor could now be included as extras, deleted scenes, etc. And as much of my work is about music and arts, the DVDs could also contain slide shows, additional music tracks, PDF documents, even websites, all accessed from menu buttons. This was in the heyday of Apple’s DVD@ccess, still good on Macs, but this sadly no longer works on PCs after Windows XP.

What is particularly good about DVDs is that all this material is packaged together and is easily accessed and can be inter-related through disc navigation. Also, tracks can have chapter markers to easily jump to a particular scene. Much as I love and use downloads and Vimeo, I’m not aware of any online way of easily packaging all these elements together – but maybe someone is already working on a solution. But personally, I still like to have the physical product – and then of course there is information on the sleeve and maybe an insert booklet, too. DVDs – standard definition or Blu-ray – may be on the way out, but it seems that we are a long way from finding a replacement that is as versatile, accessible and comprehensive.

Long may DVDs continue; we shall certainly keep producing them as long as our clients keep wanting them. We produce and use downloads too, but I worry that without the DVD’s ability to package together all those elements, those ‘murdered darlings’ will remain on the cutting room floor.

The Carniverous Plant - now titled Magnum Opus


Fiore de Henriquez & Peralta, her Tuscan hill village

Shot on film between 1975 and 1978 and edited digitally in 2014-15, this feature-length film celebrates the life and work of sculptor and 'larger than life' character Fiore de Henriquez and her support network of artisans and specialists based in the area around Pietrasanta, Tuscany, including this very traditional blacksmith's forge.

New Publication


Libby Horner's new book Brangwyn at WAR! has now been published and is available from the Goldmark Gallery:

184 pages, 126 works (almost all of which are illustrated) ranging from pre Great War illustrations for The Graphic, through all his war work to the murals in Winnipeg and the initial designs for the House of Lords memorial. The book discusses Brangwyn's attitude to war, his war art compared to contemporaries and his use of photographs. His posters are 'illustrated' by excerpts from Great War diaries. There's a chapter about propaganda and multifarious gobbets including the medical corps, gas attacks, army slang, smoking soldiers, Wipers Times, the photographer William Rider-Rider plus explanations about lithography, wood engraving and linocuts, plus an index of titles, index of catalogue numbers, museums list, exhibitions list and the usual extensive bibliography.