“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.
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.
When you are working hard creating,writing, recording it is easy to forget dressing the part, so when the time came for a photoshoot to be arranged I realised I needed to come up with at least one outfit suitable to do the album some justice. lucky I am also a tailor then!
A friend had given me a pin stripe suit some time before that I had never worn as it was a little on the large side, I liked the idea of a pin stripe suit as the album is called Ligeey which is a wolof word meaning work and what better way to look like I am meaning business!
I have a good industrial sewing machine I use so it was not hard to make some changes to the fit of the suit. Slimmer trouser legs and sleeves, a better fit around the body, a new lining with a bright african wax print, then adding touches of the same fabric to the tops of the pockets too.
My lovely wife found a black hat in our local charity shop to which I added some of the same fabric as a hat band. I then reworked a plain yellow shirt, giving it a bold stand up collar in the same fabric and some applique strips down the front of it.
My wife loves collecting beads so she strung up some of her favourite ones as a necklace for me that picked up the colours from the fabric I had used. She says the necklace contains a mix of some old African amber, venetian glass, wood and some of her most prized hand painted indian rose wood beads.
I have been hard at work these last few months making my new album Ligeey. This is a wolof word which actually means work, so very apt because to record and release an album is very hard Ligeey indeed, but so worth it!
I have found such great inspiration with the musicians I am working with, the process has been full of excitement, laughing, enjoying the ride, it is so good when creativity comes together like that.
The new album reflects the enjoyment we had making it, there is an open quality to it, a wide eyed wonder. If we liked how something worked in a track we put it in regardless of fitting into any stereotypes of what African music should be. This is not a traditional album but as they say its roots are showing.
My co- creative on the Ligeey project is Producer Mark Smulian
Smulian has produced Platinum and Gold albums for a number of internationally successful Israeli artists. In addition to producing he has had a huge involvement in the Middle-Eastern crossover music scene, working with a variety of musicians from both the Israeli and Palestinian regions and with artists from a vast range of different cultural and political backgrounds.
Mark is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Jamaà a world music collective that represents artists and bands from the Middle East.
he has a wiki here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Smulian
we met at a music making week called Schtumm which is an invitation only event for music creatives held in Box near Corsham in Wiltshire around the beautiful Real World Studio’s rehearsal rooms and the local pub The Queens Head.
Yup thats me standing outside the amazing Real World Studios having just had lunch there, Mark and I had a meeting that day with Long Tale Recordings after we had been working on the album for some weeks already.
We were so lucky to get the very wonderful and extremely busy Beth Porter to come put some Cello arrangements on a few tracks. www.bethporter
Beth is constantly in demand as a cellist for the likes of Eliza Carthy, Peter Gabriel, Newton Faulkner, The Unthanks, Kula Shaker and many acts from the South West of England, (Babel, The Cedar, The Stringbeans, Jane Taylor, Get The Blessing, Reg Meuross & Jim Moray
From Nahalal-near Nazareth- in the Jezreel Valley in Israel, Gani is one of Israel’s most creative and important vocalists. With her special blend of world/jazz/alternative music, singing in English, Hebrew and Arabic, Gani brings a unique color to the World/Jazz improvisatory scene.
Gani’s credits are far too many to list here but it can be summed up by saying that she has worked with every major artist in Israel and others from all over the world.
Gani has put some of her beautiful vocals on a number of tracks for this album singing in Hebrew, Wolof and English. The track Sam Fall features Amadou and Gani singing in Wolof and Hebrew respectively, Gani sings “give/support to the children
give to the children form your heart”
Phil Dawson has put some spectacular, pyrotechnic guitar on a couple of tracks for the the album. There is a perfect air guitar moment I promise! There is crunch and wail goodness to delight.
Phil has worked with so many fantastic artists, it is hard to choose who to mention, you can see the full list on his website.
Damon Albarn, Amadou and Mariam, Dele Sosimi, Hugh Masekela, Tony Allen …….. the list goes on and on!
Not sure why I am wearing shades indoors here, probably just overwhelmed by excitement as the album is finally finished, this is me enjoying the day whilst the album is being mastered by Sefi Carmel http://www.soundtrack-creation.com at his ( I hate to use the word stunning but I felt stunned, probably why I am wearing shades,) awesome studio in London. Look at me I am sitting there trying very hard not to reach over and slide something! I want to play!
Mastering an album is an essential final process once all the tracks have been mixed, a good professional mastering job can make a huge difference to the over all listening quality of the final album.
If you want to know more about the process of mastering music and why it is nessesary here is a good wiki lnk
Sefi Carmel is an award winning London based composer, sound designer, producer and mixer. He has been creating soundtracks for films, TV, commercials and games for over a decade.
His diverse credits range from work on A list Hollywood feature films with the likes of Ridley Scott, John Woo, Chris Columbus and Kevin Reynolds; to mixing, remixing and mastering tracks for David Bowie, Phil Collins, Bruno Mars, Michael Bublé, Massive Attack, BB king and many more.
I think as you can see the mastering of the album was in safe hands indeed!
The new album Ligeey is being released by Long tale Recordings on the 14th August 2015, you can find out more and buy copies if you follow this link to their website longtalerecordings.com
There is more information about me, my music and upcoming gigs etc on this website here amadou.longtalerecordings.com