William Irvine left with WIlliam Crozier at a London exhibit
William Irvine (left) with artist William Crozier (right) at a London exhibition of their work.























Maine Public Television will air the film “William Irvine: A Life Behind the Canvas” on Saturday, June 29 at 2pm. Maine Public plans a second airing of the film in September.

A trailer for the film can be viewed at the following website address:

“A Life Behind the Canvas” is the first documentary on the career of iconic Maine painter William Irvine (b. 1931). In 2020, David Jester and Leigh Doran began filming countless hours of interviews with Irvine at his waterfront home in Brooklin, Maine. Granting the filmmakers rare access to his painting studio, Irvine, whose impressive oeuvre spans seventy-plus years, shares his insight into a life in art. Produced by Whisky Wolf Media, a production company based in Brunswick, Maine.

Background Information regarding the William Irvine Film:
Beginning on the shores of Troon, Scotland, where Irvine was born and raised, “Behind the Canvas” chronicles his artistic journey from his early beginnings at the Glasgow School of Art and subsequent start as an abstract painter in the Bohemian neighborhood of 1950s Soho London, culminating with his eventual move to downeast Maine 1968. In the Maine villages of Jonesport and Corea, and later in Blue Hill and Brooklin, Irvine began pairing his abstract background and expressionist sensibilities with Maine’s landscapes. Irvine’s abstract overtones and his underlying geometric forms made his iconic Maine paintings both assessable and modern, and established him as a Maine and American master, and a notable and influential abstract-expressionist twentieth-century Scottish-American painter.


FIlm Clip Irvine sketching
William Irvine in his Blue Hill studio.



Utilizing never-before-seen archival footage interwoven with present-day footage, the film provides an intimate portrait of Irvine’s artistic endeavors as he recounts historical moments during the twentieth-century, including World War II Scotland, the gritty, industrialized streets of Glasgow, and the bohemian neighborhood of 1950s Soho London where Irvine rubbed shoulders with the likes of Francis Bacon, Paul Potts, and William Crozier, and where he came of age as an abstract painter.

The never-before-seen archival footage was shot by Irvine in the 1960s, when he went to Provence in the south of France to make a film about Vincent Van Gogh. Irvine planned to film the outside of the nineteenth century asylum and monastery in Saint-Rémy where Van Gogh spent a year as a patient and created over 150 paintings. Upon his arrival, Irvine discovered that the old building was about to be demolished. While the workmen were having lunch in a field, Irvine and his wife slipped inside where they explored the gardens and the interiors, eventually making their way to the cells with bars on the windows and doors. Using a Bolex 16mm camera, Irvine was able to film a great deal of the landscape and the interior, including a cell looking out the window at the olive trees in the garden. Although Irvine abandoned the project due to the high cost of film, this never-before-seen footage survived and is included in “A Life Behind the Canvas.”

Whisky Wolf Media is an award-winning Maine based production company with a diverse portfolio serving all people of Maine and beyond its borders. The filmmakers are focused on telling compelling stories through documentary and narrative film. They seek to animate stories for future generations to enjoy and learn from, to further the historical record, and to advance the human condition through storytelling, film, and visual media. The media group is based in Brunswick, Maine. For more information visit www.whiskywolfmedia.com.

Written by:  

Categories:   Announcement