People migrate for different reasons. For Clifton Powell, he relocated to England simply to explore his vision and create his own style through art.
A versatile and skilled painter, his work explores a variety of subject matter, and is influenced by the places he’s travelled to and the people he has met.
Clifton is known for his unique style which he developed while he painted in Jamaica. He combines fluid draughtsmanship with realism and a dynamic use of colour, and has been painting from a very early age as he explains:
“I’ve been painting since I was a baby. I never wanted to do anything else. My dad, who was an engineer taught me how to draw. I remember he bought me a bike to try and get me to do something else but I wasn’t interested. When I was at High School, they just stuck me in the art room because they couldn’t deal with me.”
Discovering his creative side to fully embrace his inner artistic self, he studied at the Jamaica School of Art in Kingston, and moved to the UK in the late 1980s not as an economic migrant but as an artist. He did a lot of commissioning, sign writing, restorations and refurbishments while working independently.
In London, he aligned with one of the leading framers and suppliers of Black Art in the UK – Tempole Art where he worked with artists who influenced his painting. Here, he took part in a number of exhibitions including The International Black Art Fair, and the International Art Exhibition at St Martins School of Art where he jointly exhibited with another established black artist, Paul Goodnight.
Clifton has also taken part in numerous exhibitions in London, Bath, Stroud, and West Country, at art galleries, fairs and historical sites including The House of Emperor Haile Selassie, Bluestone Gallery and Diaspora at Salisbury Arts Centre.
“I visited and worked in the Middle East on a series of drawings and paintings inspired by the region”, he adds.
Clifton also had his amazing portrait of Abbot Hadrian of Canterbury included in the series commissioned by English Heritage, depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora whose stories have contributed to England’s rich history. He painted the portrait of the Anglo-Saxon Abbot using acrylic on canvas, and this is what he had to say about the inspiration behind the art: “Music is just a part of it. For this painting I used Gregorian chants and this helped me to connect spiritually.”
His recent areas of exploration in work include the Wiltshire countryside, wildlife, birds, still life and unrest in the world. He is currently working on a painting project titled “African Art.”
Clifton is a mentor and volunteer for Arts Together, a charity-run art group supporting the well-being and quality of life of older people in Wiltshire, through the provision of participatory, creative projects.
By: Theresa R. Fianko
Additional Information By: Clifton Powell
****Images used with the full permission of Clifton Powell