First published: Winter 2013
Chaz Waldren was born in 1950 in Pinner, London, and has lived in Felpham in West Sussex with his wife Sally for the last twenty years. Felpham is where the visionary genius William Blake lived, and perhaps there is something in the flat, watery landscape that instills a love of religion, place and the unseen.
The work of Chaz Waldren is infused with love: he creates a warm world all his own. There is a wonderful picture by Waldren titled All Creatures Great and Small, in which his wife Sally has grown into a huge lighthouse-type structure with closed doors at the bottom and holding a wonderfully decorative bunch of flowers in her hand. On closer observation you can see a very small Chaz outside the tower standing in exactly the same position as the larger Sally, flowers in hand locked outside, worshipping at the altar of his wife.
The importance of Sally in Chaz’s work and life is clear to see: he speaks strongly of how Sally is his foundation and security, and his work makes this fact clear. All of his early work was made for Sally, and this act of homage and gift is both the content and purpose of a lot of the art he creates.
The domestic security Waldren has found is also expressed in the many houses that appear in his work. It is a warm contented world he creates, though deeply mysterious, infused with religion and the subconscious workings of his mind.
Speaking of his relationship with Sally, Waldren says, “It might not seem very romantic, but Sally has been my anchor, someone who keeps me down to earth and keeps me going. I have been blessed, as every home should have a woman in it”.
The more figurative/narrative works are created primarily as gifts for Sally, but he also creates other text-based works as gifts for his other love, Jesus. These are primarily prayer pictures, containing a prayer so densely decorated that they are nearly intelligible. They look almost manuscript-like in their decorated detail and can also seem to resemble eighteenth century samplers. The prayer works are texts of encouragement, thanks and, at some level, protection. These prayers play an important role in Waldren’s life; they act as reminders and prompts to avoid the temptations and weaknesses that beset us all, but most of all he believes that they work.
The work station in his bedroom is covered with them, written on small pieces of paper and attached to a cupboard on his desk. They direct him to have faith, but also to help him give up smoking, a continual trial for the previously heavy smoker.
“Whenever I have prayed for something it has always gone well. Sometimes I sense the Lord is with me and I am being blessed, but sometimes not. He knows me better than anyone else. I would have been a goner years ago, the way I abused myself; I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the Lord. I believe God answers prayer”.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #80