Friday, December 12, 2008

Sark Election

Mervyn Peake lived on Sark in the Channel Islands during two periods of his life; 1933-1935 and 1946-1949. He was inspired by his first stay to write Mr Pye, while during the his longer residency, wrote Gormenghast, illustrated Treasure Island, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Grimm's Household Tales, and others.

On Wednesday 10th December the very first democratic elections were held on Sark since it was made a fiefdom by Elizabeth 1st, 443 years ago. The result was a rejection of the Barclay brothers, owners of nearby Breqhou, and their ideas for radical changes to this tiny Channel Island. By a large margin the population of 600 voted to retain a semi-staus quo, though now, with directly elected members to the Chief Pleas, the island parliament. Carrying out their threat to close down island hotels and shops, should they lose, the Barclay's did so within an hour of the result, thus making 20% of the staff employed by them, unemployed. This, just two weeks before Christmas, as my childhood friend, the seneschal, or judge Reg Guille told me just after the election results were announced. Elation, he added has turned very quickly into deep concern for local families thrown out of work.

The Life and Work of Mervyn Peake

Over 1300 people attended my 14th and final talk of 2008, at the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, last Monday. On the vast screen behind me, were projected the many images of both my father's art and his life, and the reception following the talk was enthusiastic. Being the 40th anniversary of his death, it was a fitting location given that the audience was a large one, especially as some did not know his name.

Judging by reaction in the theatre, and the number of people coming up to the book stand afterwards, I hope there will now be a wider awareness of his art, at least in that part of Sussex. One member of the audience, who I noticed had a bag full of my father's books, whispered in an aside to me, 'of course the man was a total genius, you know'.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Late drawings at Chris Beetles' gallery

As part of the annual Illustrators exhibition at the Chris Beetles Gallery, 8-10 Ryder Street, St James, London SW1, there will also be a selection of late drawings by my father. I will be giving a short address at 7pm, 2nd December, in which I hope to place the work within the context of his overall oeuvre. The drawings themselves, produced between roughly the late 1950's and the mid 1960's, all emit the energy and unfailing flow of ideas which were the hallmark of his art, whatever the subject.