Canvas To Carpet: The Afghan Edit at HALI LONDON 2019
Melt | Hand-knotted carpet made in Afghanistan by Turquoise Mountain 

Following Allistair’s first major solo exhibition at the Broadway Gallery in Letchworth Garden City, he was invited by Turquoise Mountain to present Canvas To Carpet: The Afghan Edit during the HALI LONDON at the Mall Galleries from 27 – 30 June 2019.

Canvas To Carpet: The Afghan Edit was a special presentation focusing on four of Allistair’s hand-knotted carpets handmade by artisans in Afghanistan. The carpets, or ‘woven paintings’ as Allistair describes them, are the woven interpretations of his vibrant and rhythmic abstract paintings, themselves inspired by the artist’s synaesthetic responses to music and sound.

The “Canvas To Carpet: The Afghan Edit” presentation is a celebration of the technical artistry of the Afghan weavers, showcasing their skill in translating my painted compositions, interpreting the expressive brush strokes and rich colours into woven knots. The carpets on display both highlight and affirm Afghanistan’s rich carpet making heritage.

Allistair Covell, June 2019

The HALI Fair during HALI LONDON 2019 at the Mall Galleries | PHOTO CREDIT: Turquoise Mountain and Allistair Covell

The HALI Fair was the hub for HALI LONDON and an important addition to the London Art Week calendar. Hosting twenty of the best international dealers, the HALI Fair showcased a wide range of vintage and antique textile art, from important collectors’ pieces to more affordable decorative objects. It was the place to source Berber rugs from Morocco, suzani embroideries and Ikat textiles from Central Asia, West African prestige cloths and Tunisian indigo shawls, as well as fine Persian and other oriental carpets, tribal rugs, kilims and unique handmade artefacts from all corners of the globe.

HALI London was a special week-long festival devoted to the art and history of carpets and textiles, taking place in the British capital from 24 – 30 June 2019, in celebration of 40 years and 200 editions of HALI magazine. HALI magazine is the world’s leading publication on collectable carpets, rugs and textiles, widely recognised as an authoritative reference guide and quality art publication.

HALI London included a programme of specialist lectures, events and visits to view historical carpets and textiles in museum archives, private collections and institutions in London, including the V&A, Girdlers Hall, The Sarikhani Collection and Masterpiece London.

Memory Colour | Colour Memory at the London Design Fair 2018
Origins at Memory Colour / Colour Memory  | PHOTO CREDIT: Allistair Covell

“Research shows that the human relationship with the natural world is intrinsically linked with colour. Our recall and ability to identify objects or scenes is directly linked to whether their colour agrees with our memory colour. Our minds are reassured by familiarity. Can these assumptions our minds make with the phenomenon of memory colour be reverse engineered? Can we give new meaning to objects with colour?” 

Craig & Rose, September 2018

“For the Memory Colour | Colour Memory exhibition at the London Design Fair September 2018 edition, Craig & Rose and colour consultancy studio Calzada Fox commissioned three design practitioners, the architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall, the designer Emily Forgot and the artist Allistair Covell, to create new artworks inspired by The Colour 2018″ 

Calzada Fox, September 2018

The Colour 2018 palette | PHOTO CREDIT: Craig & Rose paints

For the Memory Colour / Colour Memory commission Allistair created Origins, a 2D low relief artwork made from plywood and incorporating all eight colours of The Colour 2018 collection. Being given The Colour 2018 palette as the starting point initially proved to be a creative challenge for Allistair as he rarely begins with a colour theme when working, instead he usually creates a colour palette through listening to music.

Working backwards forced Allistair to think about and work with colour in a new way – what does Arabian Red or Yellow Mania from the collection sound like? Could new audio memories grow from these colours? Will it change Allistair’s relationship with colour?

The subtle earthy tones of The Colour 2018 reminded Allistair of the varying timbre’s found in music. The warmer hues recalled memories of listening to the music of Grace Jones and Janelle Monáe while the lighter and more industrial colours evoked the sounds of film and computer games scores and the future disco style of Goldfrapp.  

Together these diverse musical styles inspired a series of sketches and paintings that eventually morphed into thoughts of how to present the colours in a new contemporary artistic style. The surface patterns of Origins represents the different sounds and movements within the soundtrack; the shapes show the rise and fall of musical notes, the circle is the recurring melody while the curves and dots show percussion and synthesiser effects. 

Origins pre-production | Origins | Memory Colour / Colour Memory at the London Design Fair 2018 | Photo Credits: Allistair Covell

Wool Fusion 2017 by Campaign For Wool
The Wool Fusion poster  | PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Everard

For a second year running Allistair’s artwork featured in Campaign For Wool’s annual Wool Week celebrations in 2017, in the exhibition Wool Fusion at 35 Baker Street. Colour was the central theme uniting fashion, photography, fabric, flooring, furnishings and film in a curated celebration of natural wool by the renowned interiors stylist Arabella McNie.

Wool Fusion intended to bring the story of wool’s stunning versatility to the visitor in a gallery-esque format which allowed individual pieces to really shine and to encourage people to appreciate the incredible diversity and many performance benefits of wool.

Allistair’s London Streets carpet, based on a 2006 sketch of a trip around London, was chosen by Arabella and made in collaboration with Rug Maker. The carpet showcased the benefits of using wool and the tradition of carpet making in Nepal, where heritage met contemporary design.

Wool Fusion exhibition entrance | London Streets carpet (detail) | Interior of exhibition | Wool Fusion 2017 Booklet | Photo Credits: Steven Paston and Allistair Covell

The Wool BnB 2016 by Campaign For Wool
wool-bnbThe Wool BnB Brochure | PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Dixon

In October 2016 during the UK’s 7th Wool Week, an event organised as part of Campaign For Wool’s global celebration of wool, the world’s first Wool BnB opened to the public in London. The Wool BnB was designed and curated by interiors stylist Karina Garrick, who has worked with Campaign For Wool since 2010. Karina’s vision for the special event was to “showcase wool within a domestic environment, to make it instantly accessible and to communicate how many wool products are available for the home”. Karina adds that the Wool BnB experience successfully showed how wool “can enhance the health and wellbeing of the home and its inhabitants”.

Allistair was invited to take part and Eclipse, Paint and Rhythm from his debut #CanvasToCarpet carpet collection were chosen to adorn the walls of the sitting room, while downstairs his wool stitched painting, ‘Composition IV’, hung in the dinning room.

The Wool BnB  | Sitting Room Interior | Composition IV (detail) | Photo Credits: Peter Dixon and Allistair Covell

The Cambrian Mountain Wool International Design Challenge 2015 United Kingdom Tour 
digital-stitch-2015Digital Stitch in the National Wool Museum, Wales | PHOTO CREDIT: JOHN POCKINGTON

In February 2015 Allistair was invited alongside 36 other artists and designers to take part in the Cambrian Mountains Wool International Design Challenge. Allistair, in collaboration with Penny McIntyre of Think Positive Prints UK, created the textile artwork Digital Stitch, an innovative example of fusing ‘the old with the new’ in a dynamic style. Digital Stitch is a richly coloured artwork that combines traditional woven wool production techniques with the latest cutting edge digital printing technology. The surface pattern is a digital print of an enlarged section of one of Allistair’s hand stitched paintings and presented in a style that resembles the effect of peeling and chipped paint on a surface.

From May to November 2015 the Design Challenge exhibition toured the UK with highlights including a display at the Hay Festival in Wales, The London Design Festival in London and Made By Hand Wales: The Contemporary Craft Show in Cardiff, where the exhibition was featured on the Welsh television programme ‘Made In Cardiff’. 

At the Royal Private View of the Exhibition in July 2015 Allistair’s work received Royal recognition and praise from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who is the Patron of Campaign For Wool.

In December 2015 Allistair wrote an article for COVER magazine, reporting on the event and shining a spotlight on the work that Cambrian Mountains Wool carry out to keep the wool traditions alive within the Cambrian Mountains region.  In February 2016 the National Wool Museum in Wales acquired Digital Stitch to become part of its permanent National Flat Textile collection.

 Digital Stitch (detail) | Allistair and Penny with HRH Prince Charles | Digital Stitch (detail) |  Photo Credits: Anthony Pugh and Allistair Covell

The Carpet Design Awards 2014 at DOMOTEX Hannover
AfghanMade Best Young Designer stand at DOMOTEX Hannover, Germany, 2014 | PHOTO CREDIT: Deutsche Messe Hannover

In January 2014 Allistair won the inaugural AfghanMade Best Young Designer Award at the 9th Carpet Design Awards at DOMOTEX Hannover in Germany for designing the surface pattern for a hand-knotted wool carpet. 

DOMOTEX Hannover is the world’s leading trade show for floor coverings and was Allistair’s first introduction to the high-end international carpet industry. A Carpet Design Award is an international accolade of distinction for an artist or designer and is awarded in recognition for design excellence and quality in hand-made carpets and rugs. Being nominated and winning the Carpet Design Award became a professional milestone in Allistair’s career.


The City carpet is a translation of a section of Allistair’s acrylic painting Study of The City, an abstract representation of the skyline and southbank vista of London. The City carpet was handmade in Afghanistan by the organisation AfghanMade. and created using hand-spun wool and natural vegetable dyes to achieve the vibrantly coloured and painterly inspired surface design.


The City carpet is a testament to the expert skills of the Afghan craftsmen and women and the special 2014 Carpet Design Award was created to demonstrate to international markets that Afghanistan was now in a strong position to produce high quality carpets that combined traditional weaving techniques, drawing on a rich heritage, to create woven pieces that are both contemporary and luxurious.

Winning the Carpet Design Award raised Allistair’s professional profile, gaining national and international recognition for his practice. The award encouraged Allistair to slightly refocus his practice to include translating a selection of his paintings into surface patterns for carpets, which he describes as ‘woven prints’ of his painted compositions.