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.
come alive, acrylic and emulsion on canvas, 2019
jacksonville, ipad animation painting film still, 2020
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 2015 Covell, in collaboration with the digital textile print company Think Positive, was invited to be part of the The Cambrian Mountains Wool International Design and Make Challenge. Covell’s digitally printed wool textile artwork Digital_Stitch received royal recognition from HM King Charles III during the UK touring exhibition. In 2016 the artwork was acquired by the National Wool Museum in Wales to become part of their permanent flat-weave textile collection.
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.
To The Beat, ipad animation painting film still, 2019
jane’s dream (Detail), hand-knotted afgan carpet, 2018
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.
Memory Colour / Colour Memory research for Calzada Fox + Craig & Rose Paints, 2018
Covell is currently a Trustee and Archivist of the Digswell Arts Trust, an arts charity and organisation based in Hertfordshire which, for over 65 years, has supported emerging artists in the early stages of their career. From 2014 – 2019 Covell was awarded a Fellowship with the Digswell Arts Trust and was initially based at The Farmhouse studios in Stevenage and later The Fenners studios in Letchworth Garden City.
From 2017 to 2020 Covell was an elected member of Design-Nation, the premium portfolio for Craft, Design and Product in the UK and showcased his work with Design-Nation at Decorex International in London in September 2017.
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.