This week we are providing you with an addition to our ‘interiors’ series. This time, Outside In Founder and Executive Director of Pallant House Gallery Marc Steene has written about his visit to Chaz Waldren’s home.
“Whenever I visit Chaz and Sally Waldren’s flat in Bersted I am always struck by the interweaving of Chaz and Sally lives and his art in their small flat. I love the normality of it, of how their lives and his work are all part of a whole, their home.
Chaz’s work has developed since I first saw it in 2008. His earlier pieces were very much inspired by his relationship with Sally and his Christianity, celebrating the security and love he has found in both. Since then his work has broadened in both content and form, religious characters have appeared and there is a more considered spatial depth, but they retain their joyfulness and sense of fun. On my recent visit Chaz showed me one picture he had finished and two others yet to be completed. Chaz has always been a slow worker and only produces art when he feels moved to do so; his most recent picture took a year to complete. This picture is based on his memory of his family home in Pinnar where he grew up, but as with a lot of Chaz’s work it has been relocated to the seaside. His parents wave from outside the house and Chaz and his brother are playing in the grass and also looking out through two of the windows. The house was called Little Silver and in Chaz’s reimagining of his home he has evoked a loved place, full of memories with its rose garden and fountain.
Chaz produces his work in his bedroom where he has set up a work station with his pens all carefully placed in pots. He uses gel pens and a range of other markers and has one favourite type of marker which he prefers above the others and a particular blue ball point pen which he uses for the outlining of his drawings. On the wall of the bedroom hangs a guitar he has decorated, music being another of Chaz’s passions, along with his pictures. The shrine-like work station with its religious reminders, the guitar and pictures on the walls are an act of creation, a coming together of ritual and purpose, they create an environment in which Chaz can work where his art is created.
When speaking to Chaz about his work I am reminded of how fragile our connection to our creativity can be, Chaz has managed the transition from the margins to relative discovery, he has managed to sell work, but not be driven by the need to continue to do so. Chaz has managed to maintain his creative integrity and only produce art when he wants to, this might well be due to the environment he has created and why he creates his art. There is no right or wrong here, but just a sense that we should not easily disrupt the reasons why people create, even if we see it has value artistically and financially.
Seeing the space that an artist creates their work in can shed a significant insight into them and their work, this is never more the case than with artists who work outside of the mainstream and in a highly individualised way. We can easily default to the stereotyped view of an artist either working in a purpose built white walled studio or in a garret removed from the world. The truth is having a familiar environment in which to make art can be as important, if not more important, than the other considerations of having a conventional studio, materials and other artist trappings. There is a lesson to be learnt from being comfortable, being ourselves in a space we find safe, there is a natural synergy between the work and the environment. The use of non-traditional materials in a non-arts environment again is an easier and natural process, avoiding the default to canvas, oil paint and easels.
Power so easily lies in assumptions. The decisions as to what materials to use, what space to work in, what techniques, skills etc are necessary to create art, these decisions are often taken out of our hands before we get the chance to consider them. What I am reminded of when visiting Chaz is the realisation that this does not have to be the case, art can be as natural a part of our lives as cooking the dinner or hoovering the carpet, it can become part of who we are in a deeper and more holistic way.”