“Generally I make it because that’s the kind of art I want to see”
David Cox has been making his constructed and painted artworks for over thirty years, hugely influenced by the music he loves, primarily Jamaican Reggae, Ska and Dub.
David says of his early influences ‘One day during the summer holidays in 1957, I was left in the care of my great grandmother. She didn’t break her weekly routine on my account and we took the bus to the pensioners, cut price, Wednesday matinee showing, at the ‘pictures’, in the nearby town of Trowbridge, Wiltshire. Nothing had hitherto prepared me, or I suspect, Granny Price, for the sight and sound of Little Richard on the big screen. Soon after, with saved up money, I bought my first record, ‘Lucille’ by Little Richard and became captivated by rock ‘n’ roll. During the next few years, I grew to love blues, jazz, soul and also, the sounds of Jamaica, which I first heard coming from an open window of a nearby house where Jamaican immigrants lived.’
In the beginning David was primarily using wood to construct with but in the early 90’s he started to give workshops in schools and had to rethink materials to make it easier to facilitate working with children. After experimenting, David found corrugated cardboard to be a perfect material to work with as it is light, it can be made very strong with reinforcement from withy and bamboo sticks, it is readily available, and free.
David’s workshops in schools led him to working with WOMAD ( World of Music and Dance ) Festival. David has run workshops for children all over the world at various WOMAD Festivals and was invited to be ‘artist in residence’ in 2001 making artwork for posters and publicity as well as parade art, stage design and a CD cover.
“These days my main subject matter of my work is around the music and Jamaican music in particular, and there’s that ethos in Jamaican music that they got amazing audio results from being creative with what they had, a make, mend, improvise, get it done somehow attitude that I like” “I make 3D objects but its not sculpture I don’t carve. It’s all constructed and finding out what works intrigues me, it is great fun actually making a piece, because it is like a puzzle. it gives me a real buzz to work out how to make things”
The artworks are made from cut up corrugated card boxes, brown paper, sticks and found materials. Ecos Organic Paints, pencils and crayons on surfaces.
The animation I make reflects the way my pieces are constructed, it is not bendy like plasticine, that you can make flow. My pieces are rhythmic I look on my animations as being like Dubs. I use stencils on cardboard, moving the pieces to produce stop frame animation loops which I then edit together.
See more animation on DAVID COX YouTube Channel.
A Brief Biography of David Cox
Having dropped out of Art college, David Cox began making furniture and toys in the early 1970’s. In 1979, Southern Arts awarded him a ‘time off’ bursary, to make a body of work, which was shown at his first solo exhibition, at The Festival Gallery, Bath, in 1980.
Since then he has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad, in both group and solo exhibitions. He has been ‘artist in residence’, at The Crafts Council Gallery, with the ‘Crafts In Performance’ show, as well as other galleries, arts centres, colleges, schools and a prison.
Having worked as workshop leader with WOMAD in the UK and abroad, he was invited to be ‘artist in residence’, with the organisation, in 2001. During this time, he made work for posters, publicity, parade art, stage design and a cd cover.
He has also worked extensively within education, including a year long residency at Harwell School, in Oxfordshire. From 1996 – 2001, he was principal tutor on the ‘Idea To Image’ module, in the Illustration Department, at UWE, Bristol.
January and February have been a busy time despite being far too cold for my West African body and Soul! It has been a time packed with wonderful music and I had the good fortune recently to go to a concert in Bristol by the great Senegalese musician Baaba Maal.
Baaba Maal has been a great ambassador for the music of West Africa for many years, he is one of the most famous international artists to come out of Senegal and his energy and love for the music never dims. I have been listening to Baaba Maal for a long long time, he is a musician who feels his music deeply and only follows his own way. Listening to Baaba Maal’s music over the years has been a great influence to me, He is a very friendly welcoming and gentle person, who gave me great encouragement when we met after the show. It made me so happy to be able to give him one of my albums ‘Ligeey’ after all these years listening to his music.
Baaba Maal primarily Sings in the Pulaar language. He is the foremost promoter of the traditions of the Pulaar-speaking people, who live on either side of the Senegal River in the ancient Senegalese kingdom of Futa Toro. Baaba Maal has made some 14 albums or so in his long career spanning almost 30 years including ‘Traveller’ his latest released this month.
Make Believe its Africa at Destinations Olympia
Whilst fighting off the February Blues and trying to stay warm, Mark and I had a day of gigs at The Destinations Show in Olympia, where we played in front of an African Sunset surrounded by companies selling holidays and tours to generally much hotter locations.
It was a good gig, some very nice people selling mosquito repellent and nets let us relax in their Yurt between performances, so we were well taken care of.
With that sunset behind and surrounded by holiday destinations we had to do the performance in shades, it seemed only right thing to do!
Getting Live and Local in Derbyshire
From the dream of hot exotic destinations to Derbyshire, February brought us some Rural touring gigs for Live and Local, getting out and about in a van full of equipment and Instruments, its only the musicians who tend to be squishy in that environment. Really we do enjoy being on the road, meeting new people, spreading the Group Yakar Afro beat, Jazz Funk, Blues love thing. Our gig in Critch Glebe on Valentines night was Sold out completely, apparently they had to turn Fifty people who wanted tickets away, and they had people traveling from London for the gig, it is wonderful when you get a night like that, the promoter for that gig was truly amazing, he worked so hard and seemed to be enjoying every minute of it making the night a success.
This is the email I received from David the promoter that night
This is just to say a huge thank you to Amadou Diagne & Group Yakar for giving us such a wonderful evening in Crich yesterday. The feed-back has been fantastic, as you’ll see from the attached Word Cloud.
We asked the audience to describe their experience in 3 words – the response was unprecedented! The larger the font size, the more times the word was used. So basically your audience last night thought the gig was: entertaining; great; enjoyable; fun and excellent! I couldn’t agree more!
We all wish the band a hugely successful future, and I hope rural venues book you time and again before the band is playing to much larger venues.
With very best wishes
Sound Bank and Southbank
We have the next gig coming up in Bristol on the 27th of February at The Southbank Club in Bristol
Which we are working very hard to make a truly fantastic and memorable night. As well as my full Group Yakar band performing, There will be an exhibition by Artist David Cox http://modernart-dcox.com who created the cover for the Ligeey Album.
Part of the night is a sounds project, people have been sending us the sounds of their work, and we are creating a piece of music incorporating those sounds. We have had some great sounds already sent in to us, if you would like to contribute and want to know more please send us your sounds here http://www.amadoudiagne.com/sound
You can read more about it here http://amadoudiagne.com/southbank-club-gig
and buy Tickets here http://www.amadoudiagne.com/tickets
next up I will be blogging about Davids Cox’s artwork and animations.
January is a hard time to be in the UK when you have grown up with the warm climate of West Africa! I am very glad at this time to be so busy with the band organising exciting things for the year ahead, we have been working hard making a promo film to send out to promoters, venues, festivals looking for opportunities to tour the band.
There are already some exciting gigs lined up for February, Starting with the Destinations Show in Olympia, London, on Sunday 7th February. I will be performing a duo gig with Mark Smulian on the Experience Africa Stage.
Then on Saturday 13th February The full band will be playing at Burton Caribbean Community Centre, Burton On Trent, followed by a gig at the Crich Glebe Field Centre, Matlock, Derbyshire the next Day on Sunday 14th. This is part of the National Rural Touring scheme which is an exciting thing to be part of as a performer as you get to travel to some very out of the way parts of the country and meet lots of very appreciative and interesting people.
Saturday 27th February we have a big gig organised at The Southbank Club, Bristol. Here is the beautiful poster designed by Kirstie Forbes using the artwork for my album ‘Ligeey’ by artist David Cox. David will be exhibiting his beautiful work at the Southbank Club on the night of the gig, so it is going to be a full on audio and visual night of good things. We hope to include some workshops in local schools and will be making sure of a very creative vibe with great music obviously.
I love the way Kirstie has so carefully placed each band member into the bus made by David Cox. The bus is actually about 4 inches long in reality so we would have to be the smallest touring band on earth if it weren’t for photoshop, sort of like an African funk rock flea circus.
We spent a chilly afternoon hanging out of car windows with our instruments then hoping up and down and dancing to keep warm in the park whilst Zoe tried to take our pictures.
Some pictures from our recent video shoot for a video for the track ‘Don’t leave me’ from my latest Album ‘Ligeey’. This video is being made by the Italian film maker Massimo Biagini so it is very cinematic and something quite different and exciting!
This is the track ‘Don’t leave me’ on youtube the video for it will be coming very soon!
As it is a music video I naturally spend a lot of my time in it dancing, I have enjoyed coming up with the dance moves, surprising people out shopping with some of our gorilla style filming on the streets of Bristol.
I like to make Maffe with Lamb but my wife she prefers it with chicken. when I make Maafe with Lamb I buy lamb leg or a cheaper cut like shoulder on the bone cut into pieces from our nearby halal butcher, I also sometimes make this dish with goat or mutton as I like the stronger flavour. I never measure anything, it is all by what feels right to put into the pot.
You will need for four people
Lamb or chicken leg pieces on the bone 1/2 kilo approx depends how hungry you are. Or no meat at all and make it veggie which is just as delicious
Vegetables of your choice
Vegetables I like to use are a combination of Sweet potato, Squash, carrot, potato, cassava, Aubergine, a couple of slices from a whole green cabbage leaving some stalk to hold it together, red peppers and sometimes some sliced green beans. Quantity I judge according towhat I have available, the size of my cooking pot and how hungry everyone is.
2 x Tablespoon on ground nut or vegetable oil
Tomatoes 1x Tin chopped or 6 x fresh chopped
tomato puree 1 tsp
Scotch Bonnet chilli x2 whole not split or chopped
2 Tablespoons of Smooth Peanut butter
Stock cube if you wish
fresh thyme a couple of twigs
cracked black pepper, salt
I prepare the vegetables by peeling/washing and cutting into large pieces as I want them to stay whole in the sauce. The cabbage I cut into segments held together by some stalk so they cook as a whole piece. the sweet potato, potato, squash, carrots I cut into approx. 5 cm pieces
I usually start by cooking the lamb or chicken pieces in a low sided saucepan with a lid that we have as it is easy to see what is going on and things cook evenly, when the meat is browned I add some chopped anion and a little garlic to the pan with the meat, I cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat then add chopped tomatoes ( fresh chopped or a tin) I let this cook down a bit until it gets darker and thicker then I add cracked black pepper 1/2 tsp, stock cube and approx 500ml water and bring it up to a good simmer for 15 or twenty minutes or so.
I then add my vegetables, stir, add a little more water if it is too thick but not so much water that it covers the vegetables, and add a couple of whole scotch Bonnet chilli ( they must be whole and un pierced so take care of them when stirring) bring to simmer and put on lid
I simmer it for another 10 minutes or so occasionally stirring and checking it is not drying out and sticking, the sauce needs to be not too thick and there needs to be enough of it to just cover the vegetables.
I then add 1 large heaped Tablespoon of smooth peanut butter, it is easier to add this if you take some sauce in a bowl and stir the peanut butter into that and then add it to the pan. Taste the sauce and if you wish add another tablespoon of peanut butter.
the peanut butter will really thicken the sauce, add more if you wish but be aware it is a rich sauce and can become too much of a good thing! it can also burn easily so keep the temperature right down and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until all the vegetables are cooked and the meat is tender.
check seasoning and add more to taste if needed.
there should be plenty of sauce to pour over rice with the vegetables and meat. I like to have one of the scotch bonnet on the side of my plate to squish for its lovely hot juices. Serve with lots of fluffy rice. We usually like to eat it traditional senegalese style arranged on a large flat plate or tray with a bed of rice and the meat vegetables and sauce beautifully arranged on top, then each person has a spoon and their own part of the dish to plow into.
The very next day after returning home from visiting the BBC in London for interviews and performances on Focus Africa and the World Service, I was back in a Radio Station Studio for BBC Wiltshire, so not quite so far from home this time. The presenter Marie Lennon made me feel very welcome and it was an enjoyable relaxed interview, I then played one of the tracks from my new album Ligeey, this is a video of me performing the track Sama Yon.
This week I had the good luck to be invited to travel to London for interviews and performances on both the BBC Focus Africa program and World Service Radio. I got to London the day before so I could be fresh and prepared for the next day, suit and guitar at the ready. We had a bit of a struggle to find a place to stay in London, as being August many friends and family in the area were away and sofas were in short supply. Luckily my good friend and record label magician Kirstie came to the rescue and she organised for us to stay on a boat called “Day in the Life” in East London with a wonderful host called Ian.
This was my first time Sleeping on a boat, and I was pretty nervous about it, but I was assured that it was a very well kept boat indeed and there was no danger, it would be staying safely tied to the jetty that night.
In fact the boat was very comfortable indeed, with a nice comfy bed, lovely views over the water and interesting neighbours floating by.
I had a great guitar jam session with Ian that evening on his boat and met some the locals including these beautiful and curious swans.
On our travels Kirstie and I met a very friendly member of the London Underground staff who knew all about West African music and who was a DJ in his spare time. I told him about Ligéey – good publicity! I hope he checks out my music and decides to play some!
Whilst wandering around we found the BBC News Desk which required a picture immediately and a bit of pretending to present the news of course.
The first interview on BBC Focus on Africa was with Peter Okwoche – I played a couple of tracks from Ligéey and answered Peter’s questions. The producer Chakuchanya Harawa from Malawi is also singer and musician and he had a little go on the guitar before going about his busy day.
The second interview that day was on BBC World Service Radio with Bola Mosuro. She is originally from Nigeria and knows a lot about Senegal and the music scene there. Bola requested that I played her favourite songs from my album Ligéey, Sam Fall and Fouta. I told her the stories of the songs and she asked me if I minded that people who didn’t speak Wolof might miss the meanings of the songs. I said don’t mind – if people feel the music in their hearts and get the message to be kind and strong and gentle then I am happy
Then after all the enjoyable work at the BBC it was time for some food at the Bamboo Flute nearby- delicious scallops and rice and dumplings.
followed by ice cream in hyde park mmm! such a busy day made me hungry
So finally it was time to go home very late on the coach. Sleeping all the way ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz