Shirley’s back


December 20th, 2012

Hundreds of people turned up to see actress Shirley Anne Field open an exhibition inspired by Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

The 1958 novel went on to become an award-winning film starring Shirley Anne Field, Albert Finney and Rachel Roberts.

The University’s Jubilee Campus now stands on the site of the former Raleigh factory, where Sillitoe’s anti-hero Arthur Seaton worked.

The exhibition – Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: The Authentic Moment in British Photography – uses the novel and Karel Reisz’s 1960 film to explore social change through photography.

More than 200 images make up the exhibition. It includes the work of local photographers such as Douglas Whitworth and Trevor Bartlett, as well as national photographers drawn to record ordinary life in the regions.

And a selection of stills from Reisz’s film, much of which was shot in Nottingham, are displayed for the first time.

Opening the exhibition, Shirley Anne recalled how she won the part of Doreen, one of Seaton’s girlfriends.

Auditioning for a part in a film called The Entertainer, Shirley Anne, who’d spent years learning to lose her Lancashire accent, delivered her four-minute piece in perfect RP.

Producer Tony Richardson showed her the door, adding: “If only you could do that in a northern accent.”

Shirley Anne wheeled around and told him: “Bluddy ‘ell, I spent four bluddy years tryin’ to lose this accent!”

He pulled her back in and told her to do it again in that accent. She won the part and got the nod again when Richardson was casting for Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

She said: “We were all very excited. We knew when we were making the film that we were breaking new ground and this was something special.”

Shirley Anne said she was touched that the film still had real resonance for so many people. Poet Ruth Fainlight, Sillitoe’s widow, was at the opening, along with other relatives, including his son, David, and Karel Reisz’s son.

Co-curated by Neil Walker and Anna Douglas, the exhibition runs until 10 February 2013 at Djanogly Art Gallery.

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