Nature Filmmaking with Charles Chislett

On July 4th we will be heading to The Chislett Centre in Rotherham to host a screening linking to the namesake of the centre; Charles Chislett, in collaboration with Artful find out more here. Chislett was a skilled amateur filmmaker from Rotherham who, over a period spanning the years 1930 to 1967, made a considerable number of films, of which the archives hold around 100.

For this screening we focus on a number of the films which focus in particular on his representation of nature. Chislett spent a lot of time in the outdoors and really saw the value in it, especially for young people. He would regularly take his young family on holiday to the Yorkshire Coastline and Dales, such as Dale Days (1940) which shows his family exploring recognisable spots in the Dales including Aysgarth Falls and Richmond and creates a highly idyllic vision of the landscape.

Chislett was also an active member of the CPAS (Church Pastoral Aid Society) and made films highlighting their work including They Discover The Hills (1951) where he shows the activities of a boy's camp in Pooley Bridge, Westmorland for disadvantaged city children. One of the intertitles of the film states how ‘This is the first experience of camp life or even of the country’ for many of the boys on the trip and how as a result of being outdoors ‘they learn to lift their eyes with a new meaning.’ Such quotes and the imagery of the boys exploring the landscape, highlight the benefits of being able to access the outdoors and the freedom that it can create.

Contrasting to the nature based films Chislett also documented certain industries including the Steel Works at Parkgate Rotherham in Men of Steel (1948) it shows an open cast mine with large mechanical diggers churning up the landscape. The film allows for a clear comparison to the idyllic shots in Dales Days and highlights the different ways we interact with the landscape, both as a resource in terms of mining but also for leisure and exploration.

If you would like to learn more about Charles Chislett and see some of some of his amazing films then make sure to head to our screening on Tuesday 4th July, 12.30-1.30pm at The Chislett Centre in collaboration with Artful. The screening is FREE and all are welcome and the films will be introduced by Martha Cattell, Delivery Manager for Nature Matters.

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