It is a visit which has gone down in Sheffield folklore: the day when Pablo Picasso came to the city, writes Colin Drury.
The legendary Spanish artist spent several hours here in December, 1950. He spoke at a peace conference, ate at a city café, and – bizarrely – visited a barbers for a quick trim.
Famously, he drew a dove of peace on a napkin.
Now, a reimagined version of this incredible afternoon – featuring American spies and cheeky South Yorkshire fans – has been recreated in a stunning 20-minute film set to be premiered at The Showroom this summer. A DVD release will follow.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch the official trailer and then digital editor Graham Walker’s behind the scenes report on set - when Sheffield and the City Hall was transformed back in time almost 60-years, in March 2009.
Trimming Pablo follows the painter – played by Indiana Jones star and absolute dead-ringer Paul Freeman – as he greets well-wishers outside City Hall, speaks inside and has that haircut. But in scenes which may or may not really have happened in real life (ie they didn’t), he is also shown being corralled by an American agent in the City Hall toilets and having his money held to the light by the suspicious Sheffield barber.
At one point, reflecting the famous image of Picasso holding flowers, a thrifty fan asks if she can have the bunch to give to the next big name who comes along.
“When I first found out Picasso had visited it just blew me away,” says director and co-scriptwriter Tim Newton. “I thought it would make a great film.”
That was 10 years ago. Tim came up with the idea after hearing a radio show about the visit produced by the late Sheffield writer David Sheasby. The pair got together, penned a script in 2004 and filmed the first scenes outside City Hall in 2009. Period vehicles and extras in Fifties dress can all be seen in the background.
“Getting the detail right was key to making this work,” says Tim, who even got a tailor to replicate the suit Picasso was wearing.
Tragically, David, of Fulwood, passed away shortly after. It left Tim, from Mansfield, to complete the short alone.
“I was determined to do it for him,” explains the 50-year-old film producer who, by day, works on BBC shows such as Cash In The Attic and Beat The Bailiff.
“It cost £24,000 but I think we’ve made an incredible film. We’ll be releasing it on DVD. I just hope people enjoy reliving this unique piece of history.”
The premiere will take place in August on a date to be confirmed.
Pablo Picasso’s visit put Sheffield, for a brief moment, on the front line of the Cold War.
He was to be keynote speaker at the second World Peace Conference at Sheffield City Hall in 1950. Some 2,000 delegates from 74 countries were expected to attend – mainly from communist Eastern Europe. But the British Government grew scared the event would be a propaganda coup for the Soviet Union and banned many of those who were due to attend from entering the country. The conference was transferred to Warsaw instead.
Picasso arrived anyway to address a smaller audience of 500 delegates at City Hall. A dove of peace he drew is now on show at Weston Park Museum.
* Can you remember Picasso’s visit? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
After self-funding the making of Trimming Pablo to the tune of £24,000, Tim Newton is looking for investors to finance the transferral of the film to DVD. As such, he has launched a kickstarter fund-raising project. Kickstarter schemes allow people to donate money to projects in exchange for rewards. For information visit www.kickstarter.com.
Visit the film’s official web site at www.trimmingpablo.com.
PICASSO FILM TRANSFORMS SHEFFIELD BACK TO 1950
IT was a Back To The Future moment when amazed Sheffield city centre folk were transported back in time to 1950 - for a bit of movie magic, writes digital editor Graham Walker.
Here is his report from the set in March 2009.
Gone were baseball caps, hoodies, jeans, designer labels, mobile phones and digital cameras.
Back in fashion - if just for a couple of hours – were Trilby hats, grey flannel suits, trench coats, pencil skirts and powder flash cameras.
A convoy of old Morris Minor cars and a Bedford charabanc-style touring bus were parked outside Sheffield City Hall.
The building, vintage vehicles and a crowd of extras, all in convincing period costumes, formed the backdrop for a new short film, called Trimming Pablo – the true story of artist Pablo Picasso’s visit to a Sheffield barber’s shop.
His haircut wasn’t of course the main reason for the visit. He was to attend the Second World Peace Congress, a one night only series of speeches, at Sheffield City Hall, in November 1950.
But while in Sheffield Picasso did sketch a dove on a napkin – now pride of place in Weston Park Museum – and he got his hair trimmed, which inspired Sheffield writer David Sheasby to produce a BBC radio documentary a few years ago.
Mansfield-born filmmaker Tim Newton, with independent company Citizen’s Band Productions, is now adapting it into a black and white film, with acclaimed British actor and Indiana Jones star Paul Freeman looking uncannily like the real Picasso.
Other notable faces include Chris Fairbank, Mac Macdonald, Prunella Gee and John Joyce.Tim told The Star: “It’s based on fact, but we’re concentrating on the personal, human cost of war as well as the political background.
“It wasn’t just the wonderful speech Picasso gave at the City Hall. He also touched people’s lives. In our film version, the barber has lost a son in the war. Picasso’s visit helps him.
“Most of the extras are family and friends – that’s the backbone of this film. Everyone’s pulled together and we’re excited. By hook or by crook I’m going to make this film by the end of the year. We’ll show it at festivals, including Cannes and Berlin. I want the premiere here, in Sheffield.”
Picasso actor Freeman, who played bad guy archaeologist Dr Rene Belloq opposite Harrison Ford in Indian Jones and the Raiders Of The Lost Ark, said of the small budget production:”It’s great fun. Tim is probably more hands on than Steven Spielberg.
“What attracted me to the role was a chance to play Picasso. I’ve been a fan since I saw his first major exhibition in the 1960s at the Tate.”