Larkin: New Eyes Online

Anna Farthing is the curator of the Larkin: New Eyes Each Year exhibition at the Brynmor Jones gallery at the University of Hull from 5 July to 1 October.

As a creative director of projects that interpret life stories in interesting and innovative ways, Anna has a keen interest in how personalities are represented in the media.

Here she discusses how some rare vintage Super 8mm film will be used in the exhibition and signposts some of the key films that inspired her process, giving an insight in to what to expect from the exhibition.


LARKIN ABOUT ON FILM (part of New Eyes Each Year.)

5 July – 1 October, Monday – Friday 10am – 7pm and Saturday – Sunday 10am – 5pm, Free. Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull.

We know that Philip Larkin visited the cinema several times each week throughout his life. What is less well known is that he took part in making spoof films with colleagues at the Brynmor Jones Library.

Three of these films have been edited to be shown in the exhibition. The films, and these little GIFs, reveal something of Larkin’s dry sense of humour.

Larkin Gif 1


Larkin Gif 2

LARKIN’S VOICE (part of New Eyes Each Year) 

5 July – 1 October, Monday – Friday 10am – 7pm and Saturday – Sunday 10am – 5pm, Free. Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull.

Hearing Larkin’s distinctive voice really helps readers to understand how he intended his writings to be read. Visitors to New Eyes Each Year, will be able to hear a conversation he recorded with his mother that has never been made available to the public before.

SKY PASSIONS: ANDREW MOTION ON PHILIP LARKIN. A Sky Original Programme produced by Icon Films. 

Sir Andrew Motion, former poet laureate, recently revisited Hull and his relationship with his close friend for this innovative documentary.

Motion is Larkin’s literary executor and wrote the award winning biography Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life in 1994. Combined with Sir Andrew’s personal and candid story are performances of some of his best-known work, as everyday people from the city of Hull give recitals in a variety of locations, from pubs to supermarkets to car parks.

The film will air on Sky in early 2018.

Read more here.

LARKIN AND BETJEMAN – DOWN CEMETERY ROAD. BBC Monitor (1964) (Online: available now)

Philip Larkin was famously controlled and controlling of his public persona, however, he did agree to be interviewed by Sir John Betjeman in a documentary for the BBC Arts flagship programme Monitor in 1964. In the film he talks about his life, his poetry and the city of Hull where he lived and worked as university librarian.  The film features interesting footage of the city in the 1960s, as well as visual interpretations of his poetry.



While researching for the exhibition, I found mystery items that may shed light on Larkin’s love life and will be exhibited for the first time.

In the TV Documentary Philip Larkin and the Third Woman, Sir Andrew Motion discovers an unseen and unpublished poem by Philip Larkin when he returns to Hull to meet one of the poet’s closest friends. Speaking for the first time about her relationship with Larkin, Betty Mackereth reveals the man behind the famous poems from her perspective as his secretary and his lover.

You can watch a clip from the programme here.

Larkin’s work has also inspired many short film-makers and animators to interpret his work. Here are two of my favourites.

THE TREES (2015) created by Lucy Izzard

For the 30th anniversary of Philip Larkin’s death, BBC Culture commissioned a special animated video of the poet reading The Trees.


OLD FOOLS (2002) Directed by Ruth Lingford, voiced by Bob Geldof

Old Fools is a clear-eyed look at the inevitability of our demise based on Philip Larkin’s poem of the same name. The film is a direct look at the inevitability of our own decay and death.

You can also hear Larkin reading his own work by listening to recordings at The Poetry Archive or for general information about Philip Larkin’s life and work, visit the Philip Larkin Society website.

Larkin: New Eyes Each Year is on show at the Brynmor Jones Gallery from 5 July – 1 October, admission is free.