Guernsey Press

Photographer sculpts unique chess set inspired by islands

GUERNSEY will forever be pitted against Jersey, as one local artist, immortalises the two islands in clay ready for battle.

Yasmin Mariess with a chess piece from a set that has taken over two years to make and is to be used for the International Chess Festival 20-26 October. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 25840901)

Photographer Yasmin Mariess has being sculpting a chess piece set out of clay for two years, with the pieces made out of locally known figures and historical objects from Guernsey, which have been moulded in black, and the Jersey pieces moulded in white.

‘I love making things out of clay,’ said Ms Mariess.

‘And this all came about as a result of my daughter and I discussing what to do as a project together one summer.

‘We didn’t actually begin it together, but I kept on with the idea anyway and, although she’s not involved in making them, she is my harshest critic, as well as supporter.’

Each piece has been hand-moulded, baked and painted, creating the figures they are now, with pawns turned into donkeys vs crapauds, rooks into loophole towers vs Martello towers, knights turned into the Guernsey cows vs Jersey cows, bishops turned into the La Gran’mere du Chimquiere vs angel Rene Lalique, the kings turned into a Guernsey fisherman vs a Jerseyman, and the queens turned into Liza Queripel vs Lillie Langtry.

The board will also be created by a local carpenter from blondewood and blackwood.

Many of the pieces have multiple versions due to its creator’s perfectionism and attention to detail in making the pieces fit the chess board squares in height order and featuring local clues, but none caused Ms Mariess as much bother as the angel Rene Lalique of Jersey.

‘I wanted the angel to be made out of glass but unfortunately it just wasn’t working out and I was ending up with melted Bee Gees instead,’ added Ms Mariess.

‘After making over 300 pieces altogether for all of them, I’m happy with what I have as the final result.

‘I mean as they say an artist never really finishes their work, they merely abandon it, that’s me, I could go on perfecting it – I’m really looking forward to seeing it played with.’

The international Chess Festival, from 20-26 October, will feature the one-off Guernsey/Jersey chess set, with the top Jerseyman and Guernseyman set to play with it.

Ms Mariess also has plans to hide pieces from her initial endeavours around Jersey and Guernsey in the future, with the chess set sold in future with a book she has created about the set.