Sunday, 25 February 2007

Dance: Boilerhouse Project, Lewes, 25th February 2007

Watch this space for drawings by Peter Chasseaud of the Boilerhouse Dance Project, led by Anna Carlisle. I made these charcoal drawings of the dance movements today; the next stage is to fix them, then take digital photos of them and post them to this blog.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Afghanistan - A Journey, artist's book by Peter Chasseaud (2007)

Peter Chasseaud and Altazimuth Press



Peter Chasseaud, Altazimuth Press, Lewes, 2007
A new publication. Signed & numbered, digitally printed, limited edition of 100 copies. Priced at £100.

This book was inspired by the artist /author’s trip through Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan in 1972, seen from today. The poetic text is built around his original travel journal, and the black-and-white photographs which he took while travelling, using a folding pocket Kodak camera, giving negatives 2¼-inches square. The text was written in the summer of 2006 during the fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and considers the ‘clash of civilisations’, cultures, war, religion, identity, memory, history and empires.

· 50 black & white photographs by artist /author.
· Maps, documents, other images.
· 6,000-word poetic text, by artist/author.
· Designed and bound by artist /author.
· Soft covers and maps in colour.
· Landscape-format, 12 x 18 inches (30 x 45 cm).
· 72pp including covers.
· Digitally printed.

Extract from text:

Gridded by mind-scored graticule of latitude, longitude,
seamed by footsore roads, quick or sluggish serpentine rivers, ringing railways
in the country’s grain, the lie of the land (like lines on my hand),
I travel too lightly through the peoples of Europe, of Asia;
their villages, towns, cities, their valleys, mountains, plains.
Arteries of people and of blood, tracks, routes, migrations, invasions, deportations,
flows and contraflows, tides of war and death, pools of peace.

War scuttles ahead, snatches at my heels, scatters blood and broken stone,
shattered buildings, shivered bodies, shock and awe.
Power, violence, empire:
politicians and statesmen front the money, rig systems, markets, information,
squeeze last drops – sweat, tears, blood – from we the people.

We thread our confused way through culture wars, shooting ones,
clashes of civilisations,
cross borders in the gaps between;
wary of fanatics, fundamentalists, dysfunctional casualties,
collateral damage, fly low, under their radar, dodge the flak.

Thames - The London River, artist's book (2005)

Thames - The London River

An artist's book by Peter Chasseaud and Altazimuth Press

First shown at the London Artists Book Fair (LAB’05), ICA, 25-27 Nov 2005

Peter Chasseaud is an artist, writer and photographer who has been working with maps and landscape for over 30 years. In 2004 he produced his Kings Cross artist's book, acclaimed by artists and writers, and in 2005 he continued this topographical theme with the conceptually-related Thames – The London River.

This book, dedicated to John Berger, is a personal poetic response to the Thames, in particular to the London River and the lower reaches between London and the estuary. It draws on historical, topographical, literary and artistic elements, and considers the impact of technological, political and commercial pressures and changes on the riverscape, focusing on shipping and the docks.

It incorporates an 8,900-word prose-poem text and photographic images by the artist/author, who has been taking photos of the river and its hinterland since the early 1960s, and also uses other imagery including maps, charts and a dramatic wartime aerial photograph of a German bomber over the London docks.

The text is in two sections: The first, The London River, is a three-part journey from the estuary through London to the source – Estuary to The Pool; London; The Upper Reaches. The second, Thames Themes, comprises twelve shorter pieces: The River Gods; Fragments of History; Tides; River Poets; The River’s Colours; Shoals, Deeps and Reaches; Stairs and Wharves; The Docks; London (Toil, Glitter, Grime and Wealth on a Flowing Tide); Memory, years ago from 2005; Rotherhithe Foreshore; Tidal River.

A large-format, blue-grey cloth case-bound limited edition of 50 copies, portrait-format 20 x 15 inches (50 x 38 cm), with map end-papers of the London river and dockland area, double-sided pages containing the text, 6 other maps and charts and 27 half-tone images. It is lithographically printed on 310 gsm Somerset tub-sized satin archival-quality paper. Each book is signed and numbered. It is priced at £600.

Kings Cross, artist's book by Peter Chasseaud (2004)

Kings Cross
An artist's book by Peter Chasseaud

First shown at the London Artists Book Fair at the ICA, November 2004

An important, unique poetic production exploring the area’s visual, cultural and historical complexity at a time of massive civil engineering works not seen here since the original building of the railways and their termini

In 2003-4 Peter Chasseaud worked on a related set of visual (drawn, painted, photographic) images of the landscape of the Kings Cross railway land, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) works and the new terminal at St Pancras. This documentation project explored the visual and historical/archaeological complexity of the area at a time of massive civil engineering work unprecedented in the area since the original building of the railways and their termini.

The artist's book, an important component of his project, focuses on Kings Cross Station, its neighbour St Pancras, and its hinterland and local community, and is a personal response to the station, its history, its situation in the urban landscape and its place in the regeneration of the area (including the CTRL and Railway Land construction work to the west and north of the station).

A concept piece, the book engages its subject on many levels and from many angles, through the visual medium of photographic imagery with associated text. Implicitly designating Kings Cross Station and integral ‘Railway Land’ a ‘site of special artistic interest’ – indeed a piece of living sculpture - it examines the fabric, texture and meaning of the landscape, from its component bricks to birds-eye-overviews which include the houses, businesses and people of the local community.

The book incorporates a 2,000-word prose-poem text and photographic images by the artist/author, who has been exploring and taking photos of the station and area since 1959, and also uses other imagery including aerial photographs (some going back to the early 1920s) and a still from the 1955 film The Ladykillers, starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, which was shot in the Kings Cross railway environment.

It is in a large-format, grey cloth, case-bound limited edition, portrait-format 18 x 15 inches (45 x 38 cm), with map end-papers of the Kings Cross area, fold-out, double-sides pages containing the text and 21 half-tone images, and a print-run of only 50 copies, each one signed and numbered. It is lithographically printed on archival 310 gsm Somerset tub-sized satin paper. It is priced at £500.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Ypres Willows project - visit to Belgium 9-11 February 2007

Ypres Willows project (90th anniversay of the Battles of Messines and Ypres, 1917 - see elsewhere in this blog)

From 9th to 11th February 2007 I was in the Ieper (Ypres) - Ploegsteert - Warneton area of Belgium with MOD archaeologists Martin Brown and Richard Osgood, who were doing a recce for an archaeological dig in the area of the 1914-1917 British and German front lines at St Yvon (St Yves) east of Ploegsteert Wood. The weather was fresh - sunshine, wind and rain.

Like most of Flanders, this area is alive with willows in all forms and shapes and sizes. Pollards abound. They stud the skyline of the Messines - Wytschaete Ridge like outposts or sentinels. They cluster around the moats of medieval farms. They line the beeks and other waterways. Weeping willows sashay in the wind above the moat of the city of Ypres, performing their dance of death and of renewal.

The wilows are a constant reminder that, apart from pockets of new development, the landscape has changed very little in its fundamental appearance for hundreds of years. But the willows are under constant threat. Some of the very old ones survived the battles of the First World War, but are now rotting away as is natural. Others are being grubbed up for various reasons, or chopped down for firewood. They seem to be little cultivated these days for their crop of willow wands, formerly used for basket-making, although I did see some that had been recently (and savagely) trimmed down to their polls with chain saws.

Artists Books Links

Addresses for the friends who were also exhibiting at the Art on Paper Fair at Burlington House are:

(which will also lead you to their website).

(which should also contain a link to the Fine Press Book Association website. Members now include a variety of makers and printers).

Monday, 5 February 2007

Ranscombe Camp from Caburn, oil on canvas (1991)

Peter Chasseaud's artists books in San Francisco

If you're in San Francisco, USA, in February 2007 look out for two of my limited edition artist's books - Kings Cross and Thames - The London River - which are being shown at the San Francisco book fair.

Details of these artist's books are given elsewhere in this blog.

Peter Chasseaud outside the Lewes Arms, 5th February 2007

Fieldwork in Belgium; Ypres - Wytschaete - Messines

February 9 - 11, 2007

90 years ago this year, the historic and devastating battles of Messines (June) and Third Ypres (July to November) took place. The Messines battle was notable for the simultaneous explosion of 19 huge mines under the German front positions along the Messines - Wytschaete Ridge. The massive craters transformed the landscape, and can be seen today. The Third Ypres (Passchendaele) battle (called by Lloyd George 'The Battl;e of the Mud') was notorious for the appalling weather and ground conditions for much of its duration, and became a byword for military incompetence. Surprise was not a factor, and the Germans could see the Allied preparations taking place for months before the first assault. For much of the time the battlefield became a morass. Tanks and field guns sank in the mud. Men, horses and mules were sucked under and drowned. British (including ANZAC and Canadian) casualties totalled some 315,000 (killed, wounded and missing). About a third of these, the usual proportion for a First Wiorld War battle, were dead.

Siegfried Sassoon (who was not there, but had fought on the Somme and at Arras) wrote 'I died in Hell, They called it Passchendaele').

I will be visiting the Ypres area of Belgium for some fieldwork for my Ypres Willows commemoration project (see other parts of this blog). My intention is to draw and photograph willow trees on the historic 'conflict landscape' of the Ypres (Ieper) Salient. This is one of several visits (my first was in the 1970s) in which I am working in many different light and weather conditions to capture and create images of willow trees.

These images will be shown in an exhibition at the Star Gallery, Lewes, in May 2007 and, I hope, at a location near Ypres (Ieper) later in the year. They will also be incorporated into an artist's book.

Dancer, charcoal drawing (2000)

Mount Caburn and Firle Beacon, oil study (1999)