The Chalk Giants(From the book "Solar Wind")
By : Deborah Susan Jones : Editor
Completed on 27th October 1974, just a few months after the artist had graduated from St. Martins School of Art, this painting is of classic 1970s origin and an early delve into what was to become Peter's classic technique - that of "Acryloil". It was done on canvas board, a side-step from his then usual method of painting on stretched paper, to be the cover artwork of Keith Roberts collection of stories titled "The Chalk Giants".
Steve Abis, art director of Panther Books, then a well known publisher in the UK (and Commonwealth Countries) of Science Fiction books, commissioned the work. Peter was then living in the lower end of the Fulham Road in South West London and the picture is a product of The Fulham Road Studio, which was to become famous in the industry and saw many an equally famous visitor, from Ian Ballantine of Bantam Books and publisher of Frank Frazetta's books, to producers and art directors of such projects as The War of the Worlds (album) and The Perry Rhodan series of books and so much more . . . .
This painting was one of the root explorations and experimentations that developed what became one of Peter's key strengths sought after by the world's publishers, that of characterisation and imagined stages, on which the characters appeared, and many a character, products of a fertile imagination, were rooted in "The Fulham Years".
As the studio became more and more successful, driven by phenomenal worldwide demand for these images from clients, it moved to Wimbledon in South London and expanded to be the size of a whole house, and even then, the rooms were "knee deep" in originals, to the extent that the company that Peter had formed, Solar Wind Limited, had to, of necessity, form a gallery division to sell at least some of the works, if only to free-up floor (and overhead racks!) space.
The "house" became a giant two dimentional menagerie for fantastical beast and creatures on every landing, hallway, and staircase - grotesque monsters, fabulous birds, dragons, snakes, and all manner of "things" based on ignorance and superstition and gripped and harnessed by Peter's stunning imagination, they represent and symbolise every human emotion and attribute, ludicrous and wonderful. They became symbols, too, of the mysteries and stunning powers of nature. Humans became and become obsessed by "things" they cannot understand or explain, and "The Wimbledon Studio" fully developed and extrapolated "man, myth, and magic" imagery to the full.
Fabulous monsters, or exotic birds, creatures of water, air, wind and fire - darkness (especially darkness . . . ) and light; keepers of wisdom, Lords of The Cosmos over eons - mythical beasts are rooted deep in our cultural ancestry. Born out of ignorance and gripped by that same superstition and a fearful imagination, inhabitants of fable and fairytale, they represent the archetypes and symbols of the torment and loneliness, turmoil and violence of human emotion. They are the mysteries of the human soul, symbols of the awesome power of lightning and tsunami and all human emotions both hideous and wonderful, made manifest and given physical expression in a two-dimensional icon.
The Artist has explored all these fantasies and nightmares, not least of all in this painting, to spine-chilling effect.
They have a place in the history of Art.
In what then became "The Church Stretton Studio years" the studio still generates images of myth and legend, and while perhaps more sophisticated and subtle in their references and implications all are rooted "in the 70s studio years" at The Fulham Studio, providing a past and future abundance of inspiration for painters, illustrators, story-tellers and even song writers and students of the history of art and especially the history of science fiction and fantasy art in which Peter Andrew Jones has played such a significant and influential part, as in this image here.
Equally, Keith Roberts was a Science Fiction author of note and the Chalk Giants, a future fantasy, described a lead character, Stanley Potts, obsessively attempting to escape and avoid a post nuclear world, written at a time when the cold war, we were told, could "make that so" so easily and swiftly, and the artist's chosen scene is designed to thrust at you the chilling view of how such a world might easily descend into primitive tendencies and behaviours "after the bomb".
Deborah Susan Jones