Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Peter Williams - the man who captured calm
It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of this talented, beautiful and kind man. A fine craftsman with a faultless eye and rock-steady hand, he created some of the most beautiful still life compositions and natural history images to be found anywhere. In his obituary in the Guardian the authors note, "Many fledgling art directors learned from him never to accept second best." I know this to be true as I was one of those learning early lessons with a true master. Many very happy, hard-working hours were spent in Rossetti Studios, Chelsea with Peter. We worked with celebrities such as Clive James and Ester Rantzen, classy models, food and even a couple of parrots. One stuffed for Julian Barnes' novel Flaubert's Parrot and the other, very much alive, for Raymond Chandler's Playback. So alive in fact that we grew to believe it was not only overhearing but anticipating our requirements of it's pose. We ended up discussing it in the privacy of the studio kitchen and collapsing in giggles.
But it was his still life work that stunned us every time. He worked in advertising, for the Observer, the Guardian and Sunday Telegraph. In 2000 he won the Glenfiddich Food & Drink Award and began his work for Kew magazine which he took enormous pleasure in. I think of him as 'The man who photographed calm'. In this noisy, boisterous world his images are a refuge of tranquility that, by their very silence and stillness, speak volumes above the cacophony outside their exquisitely constructed frames. As architects depend upon craftsmen, art directors rely on relationships with the best photographers and illustrators. Peter Williams was one of the finest.
He was a very special man and will be deeply missed. Thank you, Peter, for your art, your skills, your patience and fine company.