It was a busy week in Guernsey. A Brush With Life – the Art of Peter le Vasseur was published in the UK at the end of July by Lutterworth Press. It had already been available for pre-order on Amazon but we decided to initially play it low key in Peter’s home island of Guernsey so that the book could be launched in style.
Part of the plan was to have the launch coincide with the opening of Peter’s new exhibition at local commercial art venue The Coach House Gallery. Although this faced the danger of mixed messaging, with the book and exhibition falling over each other for an audience, it worked.
Both Peter and I are well known in the island, so we managed a good level of engagement with the local media. In the run-up we chatted through a half hour slot on BBC Radio Guernsey and then the Guernsey Press ran a double-page centre spread in their Saturday edition. Channel Television covered the launch, and the radio also returned. The opening event was sponsored by the Bank of Butterfield, who engaged top local photographer Chris George to cover it. The CTV coverage was available online for a few days afterwards and Chris posted his on Twitter and linkedin feeds.
It was a pleasure to welcome Adrian Brink, Managing Director of Lutterworth Press who I’d not met but had corresponded with over the two years it took to bring the manuscript to publication in defiance of the pandemic. The exhibition was opened by His Excellency Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell, the new Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey, who I also managed to have a chat with. Sadly, due to a clash of dates, the book’s main sponsor from the Aspida Group was unable to attend.
Then of course came the book signing, which came in a great surge as guests arrived, then another as the Governor’s speech ended. Everyone wanted their book signed by both Peter and I, and in future these will be at a premium given we are rarely in the island at the same time. Peter was also engaged in conversation over his new works on display, so I frequently had to pull him aside for another batch of signatures.
Upstairs, fortified by the champagne, I was able at last to see the exhibition for myself, bumping into artist Chris Foss and enjoying a long talk about his past exhibitions and work. A few of Peter’s works that feature in the book were up for sale, plus new ones I’d never seen. Quick snaps of these sufficed to bolster the catalogue of over 250 Le Vasseurs already assembled.
We had a second bite of the signing cherry at a lecture two days later organised by Guernsey Arts who supported the book financially. In front of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience I decided not to just replicate the book in abbreviated form, but investigated particular aspects of Peter’s work; some are also covered in this blog series. Deliberately I also included many images that were omitted from the book for lack of space, for copyright reasons or because no high quality image survives. It was an exhilarating ride, accompanied by daily tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts and all the extra-curricular promotion an author must do.
Meanwhile, each night back in my hotel room I opened up my laptop and continued editing the final draft of the next Blackshirt novel. The ride continues.