Chris Foss: A Sci-Fi Journey in Guernsey

The work of illustrator Chris Foss is showcased in Chris Foss: A Sci-Fi Journey, presented by Art for Guernsey at the Art for Guernsey Gallery, Mansell Street, St Peter Port from July 3rd to September 7th 2024.

Chris’s career has spanned several decades; he has illustrated numerous book covers by sci-fi heavyweights such as Isaac Asimov and E.E Doc Smith, and has provided design and concept work on several major films, including Dune, Alien, A.I., Superman, Flash Gordon and Guardians of the Galaxy.


The exhibition features new works by Chris, plus a selection of career-defining and Guernsey-focused artworks and prints, many with bespoke illustrative additions, alongside sketches and supporting media.

Chris Foss, Norman Conquest 2066, 1976

The gallery will be dedicated to this exhibition for the duration of the summer, opening to the public on 2nd July through to 7th September, and will feature a number of props and decor in support of the exhibited works, with an artist’s narrative film created to explore his career, works and inspiration, especially that of his island home.

Jock Pettitt, Curation Director of Art for Guernsey, says: “This is an exhibition quite unlike any other we have undertaken, and yet we find another artist talking about the qualities that Guernsey has inspired, the vibrancy of light and the inspiration afforded by the structures and landscapes. I find it hugely inspiring that a Guernsey-based artist has had such an illustrious career as a concept artist, informing so much of the sci-fi genre that we all know in books and films, whether we are big fans or casual observers, and it’s exciting to see ‘Guernsey’ appear so frequently in the rocks, the built structures and the ambiance of the artworks. Chris’s pedigree has seen him involved with the biggest names in the genre and that has to be admired and respected.”


Chris Foss was born in Guernsey, Channel Islands. Both his parents were schoolteachers who worked on the UK mainland, during term time the Foss family – parents, Chris and his younger brother – lived in Devon, returning to the island during the school holidays.

Even before he started school, Chris was absorbing influences from the world around him, recalling “all the gutted houses in Exeter which had been bombed in the War.” The Channel Islands had been occupied by German troops from 1940 until 1945, the only part of the British Isles to be invaded. Hitler felt the islands were of strategic importance to the invasion of Britain and ordered the construction of a series of fortifications around the coast of Guernsey and the larger island, Jersey.

Chris Foss (seated) and visitors at the opening of the exhibition at the Guernsey Gallery

Chris was born less than a year after the end of World War II, and these imposing structures made a lasting impression on him. “The German fortifications in Guernsey were almost brand-new when I was exploring them from about the age of seven,” he recalls. “I’d be quite scared because there’d be warning signs and barbed wire. They were crudely sealed and not too difficult to get into; there was a real excitement to worming my way into the elaborate bunker complexes and occasionally finding odd bits and pieces the Germans had left behind. It was an eerie experience, as I’d be on my own and no one knew I was in there. There was a curiously depressive atmosphere. In some of the towers the wallpaper and decorations the Germans had put up to make them more homely were still there.”


These structures are a recurring theme in Chris’ work. “I’m fascinated by the proportions of the towers, and they remind me of huge Easter Island gods looking out to sea, positioned as they are at strategic points around the island. They’re like big toothless masks. The towers are very precise, with a scientific taper to the top. The Germans could build an entire tower out of concrete in a forty-eight hour period. To this day I’m fascinated by concrete – the sheer mass of concrete contained in these towers I find very impressive.”

He was also intrigued by the bunkers on the island. “They recalled for me the huge boulders in the comic book westerns I loved as a child.” Chris still remembers seeing the wider aftermath of Word War II, aged just six, during an early family holiday to Europe in the Foss’ 1936 Daimler. “The war had only been over a few years,” he says. “Seeing bomb-damaged, strafed derelict buildings made a huge impression.”

See also: Tokyo Gendai Showcases Further Highlights

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