Allistair Covell is an interdisciplinary artist whose creative practice is heavily influenced by his synaesthesic responses to music and sound. Covell regards music to be as intrinsic as paint itself, using it as raw material within his practice as both a tool and an influence.
Encompassing paintings on canvas and paper, digital drawings on the iPad, animated video, small sculpture forms and an ongoing series of hand-knotted carpets (made in collaboration with weavers in Afghanistan and Nepal), Covell’s artworks are vibrantly colourful and extreme abstract interpretations of people, places and memories. Synaesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon, a condition best described as a ‘union of the senses’, also referred to as ‘cross-talk’ where one sensory experience prompts another. Covell’s synaesthesia, specifically chromesthesia, enables him to perceive and record sound as a mixture of energetic shapes of varying colours and forms. Covell’s abstract and gestural brush strokes imitate the sonic movements of music and presents a physical manifestations of sound on a surface or in physical form. Musical instruments, song melodies and vocals are depicted as rhythmic gestural brush marks, drawn photisms, layered shapes or complex shifting patterns.
In 2014 Covell won the AfghanMade Best Young Designer Award at the 9th Carpet Design Awards at Domotex Hannover in Germany. The award was Covell’s first experience of creating a composition destined to be a woven carpet. Driven by a fascination for the artistic heritage and traditional techniques involved in making carpets, Covell began to work with specialist artisan weavers. A selection of hand-knotted carpets from Afghanistan and Nepal formed the centrepiece to Covell’s first major solo exhibition, Canvas To Carpet, at the Broadway Gallery in Letchworth Garden City in 2019. An encore edition of the exhibition, Canvas To Carpet: The Afghan Edit, was part of a showcase in the Mall Galleries with Turquoise Mountain during the Hali London 2019 Festival, part of London Art Week 2019.
In 2020 Covell’s iPad digital animation film To The Beat was selected for the inaugural UH ARTS Hertfordshire Open 2020 exhibition at St Albans Museum & Art Gallery. In early 2021 the art film was acquired by UH ARTS, becoming part of their permanent art collection and the first video artwork in their collection. In 2022, UH ARTS made a second acquisition of Covell’s work Jane’s Dream (2018), a hand-knotted Afghan carpet, created in collaboration with Turquoise Mountain.
Covell has worked with a number of international organisations, companies and initiatives including Turquoise Mountain, Rug-Maker, AfghanMade, Craig & Rose Paints and Think Positive Prints UK, alongside working on projects with organisations such as Campaign for Wool, Arts Thread, the Letchworth Heritage Foundation and the colour consultancy agency Calzada Fox.
Covell is a graduate of the University of the Arts London with a BA (Hons) in Surface Design and also holds a Foundation Degree with Distinction in Fashion and Textile Design from the University of Bedfordshire. Covell is currently a Trustee with the Digswell Arts Trust, a role he began upon completing his five year Fellowship. Covell had a studio initially at the Farmhouse Studios in Stevenage and then later moved to the Fenners Building in Letchworth Garden City when the Farmhouse site closed.
For more information visit www.allistaircovell.com or follow Allistair on Twitter or Instagram – search for @allistaircovell