Knitting together epic tale of deaf rider’s Arctic adventure

Matt Hulse
Matt Hulse

As well as introducing his film to Berwick audiences on the fourth day of this year’s festival Matt Hulse is also keen to engage with the local community as he makes the Gymnasium Gallery his base for the next few weeks.

Matt is the creative brains behind ‘Dummy Jim’, a film based on the words of profoundly deaf Scottish cyclist James Duthie.

Duthie kept a diary account of his 1951 excursion to the Arctic Circle and Matt has taken these entries off the page and onto the big screen with Samuel Dore in the leading role. The brave cyclist’s trip sounds like a triumph over adversity tale that Hollywood would lap up but Matt said finding an emotional string to tie the film together was a challenge.

“The problem lay with the fact that the way James Duthie wrote was very straight forward and matter of fact.

“Rather than go into detail his notes were more in the style of lists and itineraries.

“There was no obvious element to base an emotional story on and for that reason it doesn’t have the Hollywood arc of a man overcoming the odds. Instead it’s a reflection of his life and his journey; there’s a change in him over the course of the film but it’s quite subtle. I guess the underlying message is you can go to the ends of the earth but home is where you want to be.”

Matt is hoping audiences will share in the humour of Duthie’s writing and be keen to engage in the installation he is busy readying for the Gymnasium. It will feature artefacts that once belonged to Duthie as well as various props from ‘Dummy Jim’ including the bike used by Samuel Dore in the film.

A recurring theme throughout ‘Dummy Jim’ is the knitting of a jumper which is eventually presented to Samuel and the lady responsible for the finished article is travelling to Berwick in the hope that would-be knitters will join her to help add to the installation.

“Because he had to keep his energy levels up during his cycle, James Duthie was very into his food,” Matt explained.

“In his journal he’d list the food he’d eaten in different countries so I’m hoping that we can get some local people effectively knitting dinner. The invite is extended to expert knitters and beginners. I’m really looking forward to engaging with the town and I’m planning to get out and about on the bike and in my tartan jacket so I’m more recogniseable.”

Anyone wishing to contribute can go along to a special knitting session at Kazmiranda Cafe next Friday from 2.30-5.30pm.

‘Dummy Jim’ is screening at The Maltings on Saturday, September 28 and Matt will also give a free Artist’s Talk and host a ‘Make Your Own Soundtrack’ workshop