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Born 1948-Exeter, England


Chris Welsby has been making and exhibiting work since 1969. His films and film/video installations have been exhibited internationally, at major galleries such as the Tate and Hayward galleries (London, UK), the Musée du Louvre, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh (USA), and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto).

In my work the mechanics of film and video interact with the landscape in such a way that elemental processes - such as changes in light, the rise and fall of the tide or changes in wind direction - are given the space and time to participate in the process of representation. The resulting sequences of images make it possible to envisage a relationship between technology and nature based on principals other than exploitation and domination.

The gallery installations deal with the transformations which occur when the multi-directional space of the landscape is imported into an architectural space governed by the limitations of geometry and perspective. The resulting fragmentation of sound and image acknowledges the fundamentally fractured relationship between culture and nature, a prominent characteristic of the process of industrialisation.

Unlike the landscape painters of the last century, I have avoided panoramic vistas or depictions of homogeneous pictorial space. I have avoided the static viewpoint from which to contemplate the comparative permanence of geological features such as hills and valleys. I have instead concentrated on the more transient aspects of the landscape, using the flickering, luminous characteristics of the film and video mediums, and their respective technologies, to suggest the fragmentary quality of our post-industrial experience of the natural world.

Chris Welsby

April 1998


1973-75 Higher Diploma-Slade School of Fine Art, London.

1970-73 B.A. (1st Class Honours) Fine Art-Chelsea School of Art, London.

1969-70 Foundation Studies-Central School of Art, London.


1994 Drift 17 min.
1992 Sea Pictures 36 min.; colour; sound
1990 Rainfall (Revised Version) (Installation)
1988 Sky Light 26 min.
1987 Far Horizons (camera work) by Laura Mulvey (Video wall)
1986 Sky Light (Six Screen Installation)
1983 Rainfall (Installation)
1980 Estuary 55 min.; colour; sound
1979 Sea/Shore 6 min.
1979 Shore Line II (Six Screen Installation)
1978 Wind Vane III 20 min. (Three Synchronous Projectors)
1978 Cloud Fragments 12 min.
1977 Shoreline I (Six Screen Installation)
1976 Stream Line 8 min.
1975 Wind Vane II 26 min.
1975 Colour Separation 2 min., 30 secs.
1974 Windmill III 10 min.
1974 Seven Days 20 min.
1974 Anemometer 10 min.
1974 Tree 5 min.
1973 Fforest Bay II 5 min.
1973 Running Film 4 min.
1973 Windmill 8 min.
1972-73 Park Film 7 min.
1972-73 Winter and Summer 5 min.
1972 River Yar 35 min. Twin Screen. (With William Raban)
1972 Wind Vane 8 min. Twin Screen.



1994, 17 min, colour, sound, 16mm

The overall feel of Drift is sombre and mysterious; a study of winter light falling on the surface of water, metal and cloud. The dominant colour is grey; grey infused with a multitude of ocean blues and greens. There is little land in this film and very few landmarks from which to navigate from one space to the next. The picture plane is in continuous motion like the ocean which, on the surface at least, is the subject of Drift.


The idea for this film comes from the experience of three winters living in the Kitsilano district of Vancouver. Walking out along the ocean front is a rewarding experience at any time of year, but in winter the fog moves in and the landscape assumes it's quintessentially Pacific North West appearance. It is at this time more than any other when, lacking a clearer point of reference, one's attention is drawn to the large cargo ships which anchor in the bay.

Sometimes, in clearer weather, the ships dominate the landscape. At other times, when the fog moves in, the landscape dominates the ships. On some days they assume a monumental, sculptural presence, testimony to the technological domination of the environment. At other times they are no more than grey, ghostly shapes, only half-seen in the swirling fog. At times they appear to be so large they look as if they may be about to run you down. On a different day they look like children's toys or partially drawn pictograms on grey paper.

The film comprises a series of panning shots from numerous camera angles and in a variety of winter weather conditions. The camera pans slowly from the left and from the right, as if searching for something in the fog. At times the fog is so dense that viewers of the film will be unsure if they have seen anything or merely invented a ghostly shape in the air. At other times a ship pans into view, large and very solid in the low, winter light. Shooting in different degrees of visibility has created the sensation of time passing - by, for example, dissolving a shot of a clearly visible ship into a shot of a dense fog bank and vice versa. The focal length of the lens varies from shot to shot, creating an ambiguous sense of scale once the material was edited together. Panning rate also varies from shot to shot and each shot will be a different length. This enabled me to build a rhythm into the material at the editing stage.

The visibility is never sufficiently good for the opposite shore to appear on film, the background is always cloud and ocean. However the tree-clad headland of Stanley Park, so very evocative of the Pacific North West, does briefly materialize out of the swirling fog.

On the sound track can be heard the deep, resonant tones of an offshore fog horn. Sometimes the sound is clear and at other times indistinct as it is carried away on the wind. This rhythm is placed in counterpoint alongside the rhythm established by the visual material. There is also the continuous sound of water lapping against the shore, the screech of a distant sea bird or two and occasionally, the almost imperceptible 2 bass rumble from a distant ship's engine.

The overall feel of Drift is sombre and mysterious; a study of winter light falling on the surface of water, metal and cloud. The dominant colour is grey; grey infused with a multitude of ocean blues and greens. There is little land in this film and very few landmarks from which to navigate from one space to the next. The picture plane is in continuous motion like the ocean which, on the surface at least, is the subject of Drift.

On one level Drift is a film about the ocean, about winter light and about ships at anchor in a sheltered bay. However, it is also a metaphor, an essentially filmic metaphor about time and space, about being and perception, a metaphor for the act of looking, looking at film and looking at the World.


In the third of T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, entitled The Dry Salvages, it seems that the poet is likening the groaner buoy to the conscious mind tolling to the rhythm of the ocean, the undelineated vastness of time and the unconscious:

"The tolling bell

Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried

Ground swell, a time

Older than the time of chronometers....

...When time stops and time is never ending;

and the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,

Clangs the bell."

Acknowledgements and Credits: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of England and the National Film Board of Canada. Sound mix, Robert MacNevin.

Sea Pictures

1992, 36 min, colour, sound, 16mm

This film was shot in the city of Vancouver and in the surrounding landscapes of British Columbia. It is a film about hope and despair. Hope generated by the breathtaking beauty of the Canadian landscape. Despair that this beauty is so very fragile and vulnerable on a planet dominated by indifference, greed and violence.

In the film a small child is building a sandcastle on a deserted beach. In the background the glass and steel towers of a city dominate the horizon. A succession of landscape and cityscape images weave dream-like patterns on the screen. The reverie is broken by the staccato bombardment of TV images. The child builds on, absorbed by the process of creativity. The dream-like images return, light and water combine in tiny waves ... the tide advances, alternately obscuring and revealing a childhood tide pool.

Acknowledgements and Credits: made with assistance from the Arts Council of England and the National Film Board of Canada. Sound Realization, recording, and mix, Robert MacNevin.


1990, Installation, 16mm (Revised Version)

The projection screen in this installation is a horizontal plane suspended two feet above the gallery floor. The projector beam is a vertical cone of light which appears almost solid in the particle-filled atmosphere. Rain appears to be falling down this cone of light and onto the screen below, transforming the screen into a surface of water pitted by raindrops. The sound of heavy rain falling in a forest fills the acoustic space. Is this water surface, this pond, or river, also falling from the projector? Or is it an accumulation of water particles; a record of the rainfall since the exhibition began?

Rainfall was first exhibited at the Slow Dancer Co-op in Liverpool in 1983, in what had previously been a cell in the erstwhile police headquarters building. A prisoner's dream? A hole in the roof through which the rain is falling? A shaft of daylight illuminating the dark interior of the cell ... hallucination ... artifice ... dream ... or metaphor?

Trapped in the despair of the early eighties, Rainfall was to be a magical place; a sort of pagan shrine where renewal and rebirth were still a possibility.

Rainfall marks the beginning of a shift away from earlier, more structured, classicist work of the seventies, towards more emotionally charged expressionist work, such as Sky Light.

( Signs of the Times catalogue)

"Chris Welsby has produced a substantial body of work in single screen film and installation. Like Hamish Fulton he does not touch the landscape directly; nature is allowed to direct the content of his films. In his installation Rainfall [1983], an artificial timelessness, created by a vertically projected film loop of flowing rain, interrupts the unification of time achieved in the viewing of unedited film of the weather. The potential of the installation as a sanctuary of peace binds the landscape to the mind via technology, the interface between which forms the core of Welsby's work. The installation's purity is underlined by the illusion of nature remaining untouched by any theatrical use of physical materials other than film itself."

(Chrissie Iles - 1990, Signs of the Times catalogue)

Acknowledgements and Credits: Made with assistance from The British Council. Sound Realization, recording, and mix, Robert MacNevin.

Sky Light

1988, 26 min, colour, sound, 16mm

An idyllic river flows through a forest, flashes of light and colour threaten to erase the image, bursts of short wave radio and static invade the tranquillity of the natural sound. The camera searches amongst the craggy rocks and ruined buildings of a bleak and windswept snowscape, a Geiger counter chatters ominously in the background. The sky is overcast at first but gradually clears to reveal a sky of unnatural cobalt blue....

This film is made in three sections, each leading towards the final abstraction, and each resembling a search for meaning and order amidst a plethora of electronic, chemical and mechanistic information. Space in Sky Light is both highly compressed and volatile; the film challenges the notion of its own form, ending in a beautiful but violent abstraction in which only nature and technology remain.

"The unseen is no longer playfully negotiated but instead threatens cataclysm in Welsby's latest film, Sky Light. Welsby, who is English, calls the film "post Chernobyl" - it was shot 48 hours after the disaster was announced. Echoing Adorno's dictum on the impossibility of poetry after the Holocaust, Welsby stated at his Millennium screening that "it is not possible to look at landscapes in the same way after Chernobyl." For Welsby, the accident means that his film project - which he (mistakenly) labels a "cool and distant area of research" - has become "emotional and keyed."

"Sky Light begins where his earlier films leave off, with beautifully composed images of nature. A sense of urgency and immediacy, however, conveyed by the introduction of sound and camera movement, soon indicates a profound shift in Welsby's formalist project. As in Ernie Gehr's Signal - Germany on the Air, the radio noise and voices speaking in several languages make apparent the hidden danger masked by the benign imagery. Sky Light ends, not with another English landscape, but with pure white and the crackle of a Geiger counter. The visible is longer a guarantee of absolute knowledge." Village Voice April 25th 1989 NYC

Acknowledgements and Credits: made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain. Sound Realization, Jolyon Forward.

Sky Light

1986, installation, 16mm, on six screens

This is the third in a series of six-projector gallery installations shot between 1976 and 1986. Each piece of work requires an identical situation in terms of equipment and space. All three pieces explore the relationship between the gallery space and the perspective of the landscape. Shoreline deals with the horizon line between sea and sky, Shoreline II with the line of breakers between land and sea, and Sky Light with the perspective of a stormy sky.

All three installations establish a different relationship between chance-like elements, such as wave and cloud motion, and mechanically predictable elements, such as shooting and projection speed.

Sky Light introduces a large element of chance into the process of recording the imagery. By frequently starting and stopping the camera, a large number of flash frames were produced. The result is a six projector flicker film which not only represents a stormy cloudscape but also represents the rotation of the camera shutter and the process of recording itself. The flash frames work in opposition to the projected image of cloud and blue sky, illuminating the two dimensional surface of the gallery wall in staccato rhythm, which varies continuously as the projectors drift in and out of sync.

Sky Light emphasises the potential violence and beauty of mechanistic structures and procedures, and combines this with the potential violence and beauty of natural phenomena. The footage was shot during the week following the Chernobyl explosion, when the sky carried messages for everyone.

Acknowledgements: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Rainfall1983, Installation[For still and notes see 1990 Revised Version, above]


1980, 55 min, colour, sound, 16mm

Estuary was made during the three weeks between December 17th 1979 and January 6th 1980. The film was shot from a small cabin boat moored near the mouth of the Keyhaven River. This is a place known to me since my childhood and the location for several paintings, films, and photographic pieces.

The camera was fixed relative to the motion of the boat as it responded to the action of wind and tide. This resulted in the intermittent scanning of 360 degrees about the central axis provided by the mooring, and a periodic vertical motion of about eight feet due to the rise and fall of the tide. A four second section of the film was exposed every fifteen minutes between dawn and dusk. The "takes" themselves emphasise the variations in movement of the boat as it swung to and fro on its mooring. Changes of light and weather conditions, fluctuations in the height of the tide, and sudden changes in wind direction are accentuated by the intervals of these "takes." Sound was recorded in the same way, and has been subsequently "cut" to respond to the picture track. The result of this procedure is a film which not only records the changes in light and weather over a period of three weeks, but also, in a very direct way, the interaction between the forces of winds and tide.

Acknowledgements: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.


1979, 5 min, B&W, silent, 16mm

The notion of a line which divides the land from the sea is a notion of convenience which is only valid in certain circumstances. If there is a line at all, it only exists for a second or so, and is never repeated again. This film was shot on this imaginary line, but the leading or trailing edge of the wave is never represented. The shore line is replaced by a frame line which divides each one-second "take" from its neighbour. The frame is either filled with water or littered with stones and sand exposed after the wave has receded. The image on the screen, the organic rhythm of the waves, is not destroyed by the violence of the structures imposed upon it. Nature emerges uninhibited, revealing yet further complexities of shape and form. The illusory shore line remains invisible, trapped on celluloid, hidden by the mechanics of the projector, and de-materialised by the illusion of cinematographic movement.

Shore Line II

1979, six screen installation

As in Shore Line I, each of the six projectors carries an identical fifteen foot loop of colour film, each projector is placed on its side in order to make use of the portrait format, and no attempt is made to synchronise the projectors.
The image is of a beach filmed with the camera pointing vertically downwards at the surface of wet sand and pebbles. Foaming waves rush across the frame from left to right, then recede back the way they came, dragging at the pebbles and churning the sand into new patterns. The lack of synchronisation between the projectors creates a seemingly infinite variation of movement and surfaces. Sometimes the waves appear to rush unhindered from screen to screen, creating the illusion of a continuous surface. At other times the edge of each screen appears to form a barrier which separates dry land from the sea.
The infinitely complex rhythm of the waves breaking on the shore forms a complex counterpoint to the random nature of the projection event.

Cloud Fragments

1978, 10 min, colour, silent, 16mm

The camera position remained the same throughout the shooting. The frame is comprised entirely of sky. Four one hundred foot rolls of colour film were run through the camera twelve times each, one twelfth of the frame was exposed at every run. Each run was divided into four second takes. Each of these was punctuated by four second intervals which are represented by flash frames. The four second takes are synchronised in each run so that the flash frames at the end of each take occur on the screen at about the same time.

The order in which each separate area of film was exposed was dependent upon the overall distribution of clouds within the frame. The time taken to expose each of the four rolls of film depended on the weather conditions at the time, and varied between one and fourteen days per hundred feet.

Shoreline 1

1977, colour, 16mm, six screen installation)

Each of the six projectors carries a duplicate fifteen foot loop of colour film. Each projector is placed on is side in order to make use of the portrait format. No attempt is made to synchronise the projectors.

The image is of a beach, with the camera pointing straight out to sea. The horizon is located about halfway up the frame. In the foreground, waves can be seen breaking on the shore. In the sky, a few clouds move from left to right. The projectors are aligned so that the horizon forms a continuous straight line running horizontally through all six screens. What at first sight appears to be a panoramic view of the beach turns out, on closer examination, to be an illusion created by the projection event. Only by close examination of the image is it possible to deduce that one is looking at the repetition of a single space taken at six different instances in time.

Stream Line

1976, 8 min, colour, sound, 16mm

This film was made on Mount Kinderscout in Derbyshire, England. It is a continuous, "real time" tracking shot of a stream bed. The length of the track was ten yards. The camera was suspended in a motorized carriage running on steel cables three feet above the water surface. The camera pointed vertically downwards recording the contours of the stream bed and the flow of water along its course. The sound of the water was recorded synchronously from the moving carriage.

The "drama" in this film comes from the topography of the stream and not from the camera motion or from the editing. Throughout the unedited length of the film the camera tracks along a straight line at an absolutely regular speed. In contrast the stream runs fast and slow, cascading over boulders and swirling turbulently from left to right.
I think of the straight line formed by the tracking device as a metaphor for technology. However, the straight line does not dominate the landscape like a highway or a row of buildings; in this model the straight line is used as a means to articulate the complexity of nature.
The tracking device is invisible to the viewer, but if one were to take the spool of film and roll it out on the floor one would see a surface of celluloid running parallel to the water surface, a second straight line complete with rocks and rushing water. When the film is projected the viewer becomes aware of this line through the passing of time; in Stream Line space is represented through duration.

Acknowledgements: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Colour Separation

1974, 2 min 30 sec, colour, silent

This film is based on the colour separation process. High contrast film stock was run three times through a stationary camera; once for each of the light primaries. In the composite image, anything moving is represented in primary or secondary colour whilst anything still, having been filmed through all three filters, is represented in "correct" colour.

When projected the film resembles a moving impressionist painting in which time is seen to participate in the construction of the colour image.

Windmill III

1974. 10 min, colour, silent, 16mm

The camera films a park landscape through the flat mirror blades of a small windmill. The film was shot in one continuous 400 foot take. The camera looks through the blades of the windmill, recording either what is behind or in front of the windmill blades. A rhythm determined by the speed and direction of the wind.

This film is one of a series of films (Wind Vane, Anemometer, Tree, Park, Estuary etc.) which uses an element present within the frame as a feedback device to control an aspect of the recording process. In this case it is the wind moving the leaves on the trees within the frame which also causes the windmill to rotate like a secondary shutter in front of the camera. This rotation of the mirrored windmill blades causes the image on the screen to alternate between the space in front of the camera, seen intermittently through the blades, and the space behind the camera, reflected in the blades. When the windmill reaches a particular speed, a third space is also created as the deep space of the picture plane fragments and becomes a two dimensional abstract surface of colour and light.
The duration of this film was limited by the length of a roll of unexposed film stock. The shape of the film, however, was entirely dependent on the strength and direction of the wind.

"In Windmill III, a mirrored windmill set before the camera divides the image into three distinct areas: the space in front of the windmill, the space occupied by the windmill itself, and the space behind the camera that is reflected in the blades. When the windmill turns slowly, the blades smoothly displace - or "wipe" - the front landscape with the reflected images. As the wind picks up, the windmill rotates faster and the reflected images blur, creating painterly smears across the foreground. By sectioning linear perspective, Windmill III not only challenges the standard presentation of space, it also highlights what is normally unseen - the space behind the camera."

(Village Voice April 25th 1989, NYC)

Seven Days

1974, 20 min, colour, sound, 16mm

The location for this film was by a small stream on the northern slopes of Mount Carningly in southwest Wales. The seven days were shot consecutively and appear in that order. Each day starts at the time of local sunrise and ends at the time of local sunset. One frame was taken every ten seconds throughout the hours of daylight. The camera was mounted on an equatorial stand which is a piece of equipment used by astronomers to track the stars. In order to remain stationary in relation to the star field, the mounting is aligned with the Earth's axis and rotates about its own axis at approximately once every 24 hours. Rotating at the same speed as the Earth, the camera is always pointing at the either its own shadow or the sun. Selection of image, (sky or Earth; sun or shadow), was controlled by the extent of cloud coverage, i.e. whether the sun was in or out. If the sun was out, the camera was turned towards its own shadow; if it was in, the camera was turned towards the sun. A shotgun microphone was used to sample sound every two hours. These samples were later cut to correspond, both in space and time, with the image on the screen.

There are two aspects to the structure of this film. i) The camera motion is mechanistic; time is accurately calibrated in frames, seconds, and minutes, and space is organized according to geometric principals which govern the operation of the Equatorial Stand. ii) The in-camera editing, however, is not at all mechanistic and is governed by the unpredictable nature of the weather: by the amount of cloud cover, which varied from day to day and by the speed of the clouds drifting across the sky, which depended on the strength of the wind. The final shape of the film is consequently a product of the interaction between the predictable mechanistic nature of technology and the chance-like qualities of the natural world.
Seven Days invites the viewer to contemplate the complex relationship between the structures we invent in order to observe the natural world and the structure we perceive as a result of those observations. The resulting sequences of images suggest a relationship between technology and nature based on principles other than exploitation and domination.

Acknowledgements: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.


1974, 10 min, colour, silent, 16mm

The location for this film is a small London park called Euston Square which is situated close to the busy centre of the city. The camera faces south east across the park, in the foreground there is an expanse of grass surrounded by walkways and luxurious plain trees. In the middle distance is a junction of the busy Euston road, trucks busses and commuter traffic surge past halting only for the traffic lights.
The camera angle remained unchanged throughout but the filming speed changed according to the wind speed. The camera motor was driven by an anemometer, a device used to measure wind speed, the harder the wind blew, the faster the camera motor ran, and vice versa. If the wind stopped blowing altogether, no images were recorded, causing a jump cut in the film's continuity.
As a result of this process, cars, buses and pedestrians are seen in "gusts," the mechanistic rhythm of the traffic lights no longer dominates the flow of people and traffic. The motion of the wind breathes new life into the stale tedium of the London rush hour.

Acknowledgements: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.


1974, 4 min, colour, silent, 16mm

The camera was placed on the flexible branch of a tree in a strong wind. The composition included both stationary and moving trees (a wooded landscape). The relationship of this landscape to the vertical and horizontal plane was maintained as much as possible. The camera ran continuously until all the film was exposed. The world is seen from the point of view of a tree as its branches sway to the rhythm of the wind.

Fforest Bay

1973, 5 min, colour, silent, 16mm

This film was shot in a small, sheltered bay on the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales. The bay is bound by cliffs on two sides, has gently sloping fields to the south, and faces north towards the turbulent Irish sea.

The tripod was placed at an angle of 60 degrees to the horizontal plane midway between the two sides of the bay and at the water's edge. The camera panned through 360 degrees, stopping every 45 degrees to take a predetermined number of frames. The shooting speed was one frame per second.

The first half of the film was shot from the high tide line. During the first 360 degree pan one frame was taken in each of the predetermined 45-degree angles. During the second 360-degree pan, two frames were taken at each position. Then three frames were taken, and so on, until a thirty-frame sample was being taken at each position.

During the second half of the film, which was shot from the low tide line, the above structure was reversed. The film rapidly accelerates in pace, the movement of clouds, people and waves are caught up in the insistent rhythm of the filmic structure, only to disappear in an abstract pattern of light and colour at the films end.

Running Film

1973, 4 min, colour, sound, 16mm.

The location for this film is a busy London park in summer time. The camera remained stationary throughout the shooting process. With the camera switched on, the film maker ran past, into the centre of the frame and then away off into the distance. After ten seconds had elapsed the camera was switched off . This procedure was repeated until all of the film stock was used up. A hand clap, used to synchronise the sound at the start of each take, was not edited out and appears to cause the distant, tiny running figure to disappear. The frenetic and repetitive rhythm of the film maker running away from his camera contrasts with the ever-changing background of people leisurely strolling through the park. Though the piece initially has the appearance of a film loop, it becomes clear, as the film progresses, that it is in fact a series of different takes.

Windmill II

1973, 8 min, colour, silent, 16mm

The camera films a park landscape through the blades of a small, hand-built windmill. Each of the eight blades was covered in Melanex (mirrored fabric). The film was shot on a windy day in the park, with three 100-foot takes being shot on the same day. The camera angle remained the same throughout. Variations in wind speed and direction cause a constantly shifting relationship between the landscape in front of the camera, as seen between the blades of the windmill, and the reflection of the camera with the landscape behind it. The rhythm of this movement between foreground and background is created by variations in the strength and direction of the wind.

Park Film

1972, 8 min, colour, silent, 16mm

The camera was pointed at right angles across a busy park pathway. On the other side of the path are many trees receding into the distance. About one third of the composition is taken up by sky. Many people move through the picture, both on and off the pathway. One frame was taken each time a person on the pathway moved into the picture and one frame was taken again as they moved out. The procedure was repeated over a period of three days with filming beginning at dawn and ending at dusk. Two of the days were sunny and the other was very stormy. The speed at which people, clouds and shadows move in the film is directly related to the flow of people through the park.

The overall pacing of this film was dependent on the flow of people along a busy park pathway in London. The flow of people is determined by the commuter clock, by the morning and evening rush hours, by the timing of the daily coffee break and lunch break etc. In Park Film the rhythm of the city can be seen to interact with the changing light and weather conditions throughout the day.
This is not so much a film about a park, or a record of the people passing through the park. Here the camera is not a passive observer, nor is it used as a surveillance device. Rather, the camera in Park Film, like the passers by who trigger its shutter, is an active participant in the interaction between a park and the city which surrounds it.

"The primary strategy for exploring the properties of cinematic representation is the manipulation of the recording devices (e.g. the shutter of the camera, or the aperture, or the framing of the composition, or the use of tripod or tape recorder), and the primary strategy for then integrating the 'content' of the landscape with the 'shape' of the film is to establish a system or systems which incorporates the two. Chris Welsby's Park Film is a good example. This seven minute film is constructed around a rigid system (the 'shape') which is mitigated by an aleatory system (arising from the 'content').... The preconceived rigid system (precisely when a frame should be exposed) is dependent for its execution on the aleatory system (the passerby).... The landscape is thus an integral factor determining the shape of the film."

(Deke Dusinberre St. George in the Forest: The English Avant-Garde, in Afterimage Summer 1976)

Acknowledgements: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Winter and Summer

1972-73, 5 min, colour, silent, 16mm

The structure of Winter and Summer is based on the tilting of the earth as it journeys between the seasons.

The camera faces south across a tidal estuary. Most of the picture surface is comprised of sky and water. From the foreground to the middle distance, numerous small boats swing to and fro on their moorings.

The film is in two parts of equal length, and each part consists of a time lapse record of one complete day. In the first part, a day in midwinter, one frame was taken every ten seconds from first light until nightfall. In the second part, a summer day having exactly twice as many hours between sunrise and sunset as the winter day, one frame was taken every twenty seconds.

When projected at 24 fps, the Winter day appears to be the same length as the summer day, since both sections of the film contain the same number of frames. However, in order to achieve this effect, the summer day is in fact being seen at double the speed of the Winter day.
Rather than being arbitrary, the filming speed is controlled by the same natural phenomena seen within the frame, where the changing seasons effect the light, colour of foliage, and the absence/presence of people.

Acknowledgements: Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.

River Yar (with William Raban)

1971-72, 35 min, colour, mag stripe sound, 16mm on two screens

Shot through an upstairs window in a water mill on the Isle of Wight, overlooking a tidal estuary. A camera recorded one frame every minute (day and night) for two separate three-week periods in autumn and spring. The film is shown on two adjacent screens, each having a soundtrack that was recorded on a sampling basis.

"River Yar is one of the richest and most beautiful films to have been made by a British film-maker."

(John Du Cane)

"River Yar (1972) is a classic of English avant-garde landscape in its merging of process and Romanticist imagery."

(William Raban)

Wind Vane

1972, 8 min, colour, sound, 16mm on two screens

The location for this film is the western end of Hampstead Heath in London. Two cameras mounted on tripods with wind vane attachments were positioned about 50 feet apart along an axis of 45 degrees to the direction of the wind. Both cameras were free to pan through 360 degrees in the horizontal plane. There are three continuous 100 foot takes for each screen. The movements of the two cameras, which were filming simultaneously, were controlled by the wind strength and direction. The sound was recorded synchronously with the picture track and consists mainly of wind noise. Each screen has its own soundtrack when projected.

All images copyright © Chris Welsby, 1998.

(Chris Welsby's film notes and images compiled and edited by Robert MacNevin)



1989- Assistant Professor of Film at the School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

1976-1989 Co-founder of and Lecturer in the Fine Arts Media Programme (Graduate Studies)at the Slade School of Art, London, England.

1975-1989 Visiting Lecturer at art schools throughout Europe and North America.


1996 Museum of Modern Art (New York).

1995 National Film Theatre (London).

1995 Austrian Filmmaker's Co-op (Vienna); Light Cone (Paris); Cinemathèque Royale, Filmmuseum (Brussels).

1993 Musée d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris); Pacific Cinemathèque (Vancouver Canada); Cinematheque (San Francisco); Film Archives (Berkeley); Art Gallery of Ontario, (Toronto).

1992 Robert Flaherty International Film Seminar (Aurora, New York).

1990 Pacific Cinemathèque (Vancouver); B.C. Directors, Harbour Centre (Vancouver, Canada).

1989 North American Tour: Chicago Filmmakers; The Art Institute (Chicago); Millennium (New York); Innis Film Society (Toronto); Emily Carr College of Art (Vancouver); Pacific Cinemathèque (Vancouver); Film Forum at LACE (Los Angeles); The Art Institute (San Francisco); Pacific Film Archives (Berkeley); Cinemathèque (San Francisco); Utica College, (Syracuse); Pittsburgh Filmmakers; Carnegie Institute (Pittsburgh).

1988 National Film Theatre (London); London Film Festival.

1985 Darkroom Gallery (Cambridge, England).

1984 Darkroom Gallery (Cambridge, England).

1983 Bridewell Studios (Liverpool); B2 Gallery (London).

1982 Spacex Gallery (Exeter); John Hansard Gallery (Southampton, England).

1981 ACME Gallery (London); Tate Gallery (London); North American Tour: Millennium (New York); Filmmaker's Co-op (Chicago); Canyon Cinema (San Francisco); Pittsburgh Filmmakers; Carnegie Institute (Pittsburgh); Pacific Film Archives, (Berkeley); Portland Art Museum (Portland, Oregon); Encounter Cinema (Los Angeles), USA; Pacific Cinemathèque (Vancouver).

1980 German Tour: Kommunales Kino, Frankfurt; Das Kino, Karlsruhe; Kommunales Kino (Stuttgart); Kommunales Kino (Kiel); Arsenal (Berlin); National Museum of Art (Budapest); De Appel Gallery (Amsterdam); Museum of Modern Art (Oxford, England).

1979 Film Centrum, Den Haag; Melkweg (Amsterdam).

1978 L'Espace Lyonnais D'Art Contemporain (Lyons); Avignon Film Festival (Avignon, France).

1977 Gallery Cavalino (Venice, Italy); Spectro Arts Centre (Newcastle, England); ACME Gallery, (London); Omnium Film Co-op, Paris; British Council (Paris); Stedlijk (Amsterdam).

1976 North American Tour: Anthology Film Archives, Millennium(New York); Carnegie Institute, (Pittsburgh); Film Group at N.A.M.E. (Chicago); Pacific Film Archives, Canyon Cinema (San Francisco); Theatre Vanguard (Los Angeles); Institute of Contemporary Arts (London).

1975 Tate Gallery (London); Midland Group (Nottingham, England).

1974 London Filmmaker's Co-op.

1973 London Filmmaker's Co-op.


1996 Northwest Film & Video Festival (Portland, Oregon)-Winner of Kodak Production Award for Drift; Surface Tension, Foundation for Art &Cinema (San Francisco); Der Blick der Moderne, Stadtkino (Vienna, Austria); Les Projections (Revolutionnaires), Galérie Jordan-Devarrieux (Paris, France); Nature & Cinema, Film Forum (Los Angeles); Cinemathèque (San Francisco); Une Carte Blanche de Ça Va Pas le Caisson, Le Confort Moderne (Poitiers, France); Paysages Contemporains, Kino Musei (Moscow, Russia).

1995 Poétique de la couleur, Musée du Louvre (Paris); Viper International Film Festival (Luzern, Switzerland)-Winner of Best Film Award for Drift.

1994 English Avant-Garde Classics, N.F.T. (London).

1993-94 Signs of the Times, Centre d'Art et de Culture, La Ferme du Buisson (Paris).

1993 Manifeste-30 ans de creation cinematographique en perspective Musée d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris); Antwerpen '93, Stuc Arts Centre (Antwerp, Belgium).

1992 London International Film Festival; Manifeste-30 ans de creation cinematographique en perspective, Musée d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).

1991 Zeeland Film Festival, Netherlands. 25 Years of British Avant-Garde Filmmaking, Tate Gallery, (London).

1990 Signs of the Times, International Touring Exhibition of British Media Installations, Museum of Modern Art (Oxford, England); Centre of Contemporary Art (Warsaw); Stadtkino, (Vienna); Hochschule Fur Kunst (Hamburg, Germany).

1989 International Experimental Film Congress (Toronto).

1988 London International Film Festival.

1986 Charting Time, Serpentine Gallery (London); Art in Cinema-The International Avant-Garde Film, National Film Theatre (London); Avant-Garde Landscape Film, Cambridge Darkroom Gallery (England); European Avant-Garde Film, Millennium (New York).

1985 New Pluralism, Tate Gallery (London).

1984 Artist as Filmmaker, National Film Theatre (London).

1983 Landscape in Film and Video, L.F.M.C.; Cubism and the Cinema, Institute of Contemporary Arts and Tate Gallery (London).

1982 Art and the Sea, Institute of Contemopary Arts (London).

1981 Art and the Sea (Bristol, Glasgow, Southampton); European Avant-Garde Film, American Federation of the Arts, Touring Exhibition.

1980 Festival of Nations (Amsterdam).

1979 Film as Film, Hayward Gallery (London).

1978 Perspectives on English Avant-Garde Film, Arts Council/British Council International Touring Exhibition.

1977 Perspectives on British Avant-Garde Film, Hayward Gallery (London); Film als Film, Touring Exhibition (Germany).

1976 Edinburgh Film Festival; National Film Theatre (London).

1975 British Avant-Garde Landscape Films, Tate Gallery (London); Oberhausen Film Festival (Germany).

1974 Musée d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou (Paris).

1973 Festival of Independent/Avant-Garde Film, N.F.T. (London).

1972 National Film Theatre (London).

1970 National Film Theatre (London).


National Film Archive, (UK); National Film Archive of Australia (Canberra); Anthology Film Archives (New York); Light Cone (Paris); London Filmmakers Co-op; Pacific Film Archives (San Francisco); Canadian Film Distribution Centre (Toronto); Tate Gallery (London); Moving Images Distribution, (Vancouver); Musée National D'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris). Archives du Film Expérimental d'Avignon (Avignon).


Midland Group Gallery (Nottingham); Arnolfini Gallery (Bristol); Grey Suit (Cardiff); Museum of The Moving Image (London).


Light Cone
27 rue Louis Braille
75012 Paris, FRANCE
Tel: (011-33-1)
Fax: (011-33-1)

Canyon Cinema
2325 Third Street, Suite 338
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel/Fax (415) 626-2255

London Filmmaker's Coop
12-18 Hoxton Street Third Floor
Tel: (011-44-171) 739 7133
Fax (+171) 739 6366

Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC)
37 Hanna Avenue, Suite 220,
Toronto ON
M6K 1W8
Tel: (416) 588-0725
Fax: (416) 588-7956

Moving Images Distribution Society
402 West Pender Street, Suite 606
Vancouver, B.C.
V6B 1T6
Tel:: (604) 684-3014
Fax: (604) 684-7165

Chris Welsby
395 Lyngail
Gabriola Island,BC
Canada VOR 1X1
Tel/Fax: 604-733-9688


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