I met Xavier Pick at Camp Allenby. He is an artist of the finest sort. He works from his heart in a very immediate fashion- pen and ink. Xavier was a guest of the British military. He came to Basra, much like I did, to check out the situation for himself and create a body of work about what he finds. He shared his work as he went on the base and in the streets, and will go on sharing the work as he turns his sketches into larger art pieces in the form of paintings and videos. At Division Headquarters he put on an exhibition of printed out blowups of pages from sketchbooks that include text and image. I took pictures of him as he interviewed British General Salmon as they did a walk through of the show. Xavier works in the tradition of the war sketch artist, an English tradition. He got to join in on and draw one mission that made national news. The Iraqi military repossessed ancient artifacts from smugglers in a sting operation conducted fully by the Iraqis. He was on site while the Iraqi military inspected the goods before they were packed up to be returned to the museum in Baghdad. Over the course of a month he documented a large swatch of life in Basra besides all things military.
Xavier’s work is full of his exuberance for life. His sketchbooks are real treasures full of his personal observations. During my interview with him, he commented on the difference between himself and photojournalists,
“The big story of destruction does sell. I’m looking for the opposite.” When asked about the worst case scenario for Basra, he spoke instead about the best, saying, ” The best case scenario: the Iranian and Iraqi border opens up and everyone accepts everyone. The Shias accept the Sunni, accept the Buddhists, accept the Christians, and we have one big party and we all sit down at the same table to eat.”
images top to bottom left to right- Xavier’s journal/ Phin Percy filming Xavier in his room/studio at Camp Allenby,open page in sketch book, General Salmon and Xavier walking through exhibition of Xavier’s work/portrait of General Salmon/ Portrait of Xavier. To contact Xavier or see more of his work visit his website at