Over twenty years ago a friend of ours had been on trip to Australia and Africa and on her return she brought us a gift of two small African figures from Nairobi. Ever since, these have stood in our bedroom on the dressing table, I see them every morning as the light comes in creating wonderful figurative shadows on the wall. They sometimes appear to whisper to each other and look very aware of what is going on around them. I think these were my initial influence into the majesty that is African art; it has appeared frequently in my work since the day they came into our home. They lit my fuse.
Only last year (2012) I reverted back to the figures for an exhibition at Harding House Gallery titled “Figuratively Speaking”, creating two wall mounted glass panels (Tribal Tales I &II).
At art school we were given a project based on a tribal theme to design three playing cards and also to design the back of the card. This was an ideal opportunity to delve further into African tribal art, exploring their cultural, religious and social values through colour and design. The primitive simplicity is what really appealed to me and various simple designs though expertly produced have stuck with me throughout my art career.
The square, circle and triangle, the simplest of forms are abundant in African tribal art and design and all with their own individual relevance within that culture. Inspiration can be drawn from costume, textiles, vessels and objects relating to their beliefs. There is so much you can create from one single influence if it is explored, developed and adapted to suit your own individual style.
I feel the need to progress but with as little outside influence as possible, a self-development is very important to an artist so taking an idea one step further, sometimes over a number of years, can be very rewarding.
If you would like to see more of the stuff that comes out of my shed, visit my website www.kevinwallhead.co.uk