#ContemporaryArtMonday: Peter Cross

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Posted 22nd January 2018


In a career spanning more than 40 years, artist/ illustrator Peter Cross has produced album covers, children's books, wine guides and greetings cards, as well as undertaking private commissions. He has exhibited since 1988 at Chris Beetles Gallery in St James's.

'I trained as a technical illustrator at Hawker Siddeley Aviation in Kingston where I developed an eye for detail and learnt discipline of line. Drawing is the foundation of everything - not only does it teach you to observe, it enables you to express and communicate ideas. It gives form to the imagination.

Visiting Watts Gallery – Artists' Village gave me the inspiration to create The Map of Connectivity (illustrated above), now displayed at Watts Gallery. Living in Surrey all my life, I feel an affinity for its history and landscape, so I wanted the piece to convey a sense of cultural identity – connecting people, place and art, and linking past and present.

The work is loosely based on Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (the Pilgrim's Way passes by the Gallery). Rather than a spiritual journey, today's pilgrims are visiting Watts Gallery – Artists' Village seeking enlightenment through the Wattses' ethos of 'Art for All'. Building a narrative in this way gives the work a dynamic and adds depth. Whilst the picture references many of the works of G F Watts – as well as Mary Watts's Chapel – interwoven between the real and the imagined runs a thread of gentle parody (it's an English trait). Humour helps connect with the viewer and draws them into the picture.

Another major influence came from the Arts and Crafts Movement, including artists such as Edward Burne-Jones, as well as the group known as the 'Ancients' and their mentor, William Blake.

Connecting with the past helps us to appreciate the present and creates a platform from which to embark on our own journeys of discovery.'

Peter Cross