Featured Artist of the Month – Allistair Covell

Written by Anton Psak

On October 4, 2014

Detail from Up On The Roof1) How would you describe your current practice?

My current practice is exploring colour and pattern and how it can be applied to multiple surfaces, whether it is paper, canvas or fabric using paint or dyes.
I am greatly inspired by music from the initial response to listening to it and then interpreting the mood, the style and the lyrics (if there are any) of the piece through colour and mark making on to the surface.

2) What are you working on at the moment?

At present I am working on a variety of projects that touch on different subject areas that ranges from textiles to ceramics.
In January 2014 I was named the AfghanMade Best Young Designer Award at the Carpet Design Awards at DOMOTEX Hannover, the international floor trading show, in Germany. Winning the award has encouraged me to take my artwork into another direction and to design products for interiors and spaces alongside fashion and creating pieces of art. It is exciting to work on textile patterns and artistic compositions that could grow into becoming a rug or a carpet designs. I am playing around with the concept that rugs could be perceived as works of art for the floor but still serve a practical purpose. It is a fascinating new product to design for as it has it own properties, potential and restrictions and designing for this medium is taking me out of my comfort zone as an artist.

3) What are your plans for the coming year?

Plans for the coming year involve a return to painting on paper, fabric and other surfaces plus developing new designs for rugs and the launch of my debut scarf collection and one project hopefully involving ceramics.
I had my first solo exhibition at the Courtyard Arts Gallery in Hertford in September 2014 which was a fantastic experience and it would be great to be involved in another exhibition.
My exhibition was a snap shot of my work over the last ten years and called ‘Arrival’ it showcased new work with pieces I had created during my time at university. The artwork on display was diverse and included two fashion garments, stitched textile art, painted wall hangings, iPhone drawings printed onto canvas; printed ceramics and the rug that I won the award with. This exhibition marked the first time that the woven rug was on public display in the UK and it was incredibly popular -the star attraction!

4) What is the question you get asked most frequently about your work and how do you answer it?

I think the question I am asked is “how do I know where to put the colour or what inspires the colour?” when I show people my work –whether it is a painting, the print on a dress or recently designs on rugs.  My answer is “I don’t know”. I think it’s subconscious and a intuitive response to something when I work, which could be linked to a number of factors –the music that I am listening to at the time, the subject of the piece or the atmosphere of the environment. It is true that inspiration can come from anywhere.

5) What / who inspired you to be an artist?

I don’t think any one person has inspired me to be an artist but I know that I have always been creative and Art was my favourite subject at school. I knew early on I wanted to pursue a career where being creative played a crucial role but wasn’t at the time sure which path that would be. I would say my art teachers at school were the ones who (other than my parents) really inspired me to become an artist.
I have always been encouraged to follow my own route through life, regardless of whether I was an artist or not, and I have been constantly supported along the way. Coming from a creative background has been such a blessing, as I know there is an unspoken understanding of what it is to be creative and how the journey isn’t always straightforward or simple but with hard work you can get there.

6) Which artist do you most admire and why?

Rather than say ‘artist’ I would change that to ‘people’. I appreciate the work of artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Delaunay, Kandinsky but I also admire the skills of people who are creative in other fields. For example I was very lucky and fortunate to work with the textile design icon Zandra Rhodes and the fashion designer Matthew Williamson whilst I was at university and I really admire the work of friends who are ceramists, photographers or musicians.
I draw a lot of my inspiration from music so ‘artists’ such as Madonna, Kate Bush and Enya really inspire me with their music, lyrics, use of visual images etc as much as a great painter does with their paintings.

7) How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?

I have only been with Digswell Arts since last summer but being a fellow has already strengthened my practice as I now have my own studio space where I can work and fully concentrate on my work, away from the distractions of every day life.
I am based at the Farmhouse and I couldn’t ask for a more inspiring place to work or be part of a lovelier group of artists who all support each other.

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