The King’s Survey of the Channel Islands is the most beautiful book about the islands ever produced and that is entirely down to one Thomas Phillips.
There is no record of young Thomas until he passes his gunnery exams, so it is likely that he had no formal artistic training. He was, however, in the right place at the right time. When Colonel Legge was commissioned by Charles the Second to survey the islands he realised that one of his garrison was a talented painter and he made young Gunner Phillips the expedition artist.
Thomas knew that he was going somewhere beautiful, that his work would be put in front of the King and that the King liked flamboyance and decoration. In short he realised that this was a great opportunity. The work that he produced was beautiful, delighting His Majesty and leaving us with these stunning images of the islands frozen in time.
Young Tom may not have had any formal training, but he was unquestionably hugely talented. It is said that he painted what he saw and so his images of St Peter Port and St Helier are not only stunning in their own right, they are valuable historical records.
Thomas also had a keenly developed sense of perspective at a time when many of his peers were struggling to break free from two dimensional representation, and his use of space, most notable in “The First Appearance of the Islands”, is breathtakingly modern in its execution. You will notice that he also painted a good boat and used them throughout to stretch his perspectives.
On occasions he puts his gunnery training to good use, and it is his knowledge of trigonometry and telemetry, which has informed “A Prospect Goeing into the Road of Guernsey.” This presents a fantastical aerial view that the artist could never have seen, but one which will be familiar to anyone who has flown into the islands.
The survey was a working document and you may notice an exaggeration in the heights of the hills and the size of the churches and windmills; this was to bring them to the notice of the sailors and others who were to use the report.
The Clear Vue Publishing Partnership published the award winning King’s Survey of the Channel Islands in 2011. Such was the complexity of recreating Thomas’s work that it was decided to produce a series of prints at the same time. They were printed on the largest press in the British Isles under the watchful eye of Master Printer Stephen Rose. The paper used, an archival quality, 200gram Munken, was especially made for the project.
THIS EDITION IS STRICTLY LIMITED TO 125 COPIES OF EACH PRINT
The artwork of the expedition surveyor, Sir Bernard de Gomme, is well known to art historians, however it pales into insignificance next to the work of Gunner Phillips, who has remained largely unknown until now, and we hope these prints will go some way to reinforcing his growing reputation.
You can download our brochure by clicking on this link Download file It has all the details of the prints and the different ways of buying them and getting them delivered.