Allistair Covell is an interdisciplinary artist whose creative practice is centred around his abstract visual interpretations of people, places and memories, heavily influenced by his synaesthesic responses to music and sound.
Covell’s practice spans paintings on canvas and the iPad, creating digital animations on video, sculpture and a series of vibrant hand-knotted carpets, made in collaboration with weavers in Afghanistan and Nepal.
Covell regards music and sound to be as intrinsic as the paint itself, using it as raw material within his practice. Covell’s synaesthesia, specifically chromesthesia, enables him to perceive sound as a mixture of energetic shapes and varying colours. Synaesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon, a condition best described as a ‘union of the senses’ where one sensory experience prompts another.
come alive, acrylic and emulsion on canvas, 2019
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.
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.
jane’s dream, hand-knotted afgan carpet, 2018
In 2015 Covell, in collaboration with the digital textile print company Think Positive, were included in The Cambrian Mountains Wool International Design and Make Challenge. Covell’s digitally printed textile artwork Digital Stitch received royal recognition from HRH The Prince of Wales 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, inspired by the song Back That Up To The Beat by the American singer and song- writer Madonna, was included in the inaugural Hertfordshire Open 2020 exhibition at St Albans Museum & Art Gallery. In early 2021 To The Beat was acquired by UH ARTS to become part of their permanent art collection.
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 a Trustee and Archivist of the Digswell Arts Trust, an arts organisation which has for over 60 years supported the development of emerging artists. From 2014 – 2019 Covell was awarded a Fellowship with the Digswell Arts Trust which included a studio space based in Hertfordshire.
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 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.