Artist's statement

Nimi Furtado

I was born and brought up in the wilds of Kenya, moving to Spain in my teens and soon after to the UK.  

I have painted from an early age, influenced by the people, the brilliant light and the colours of Kenya.  I was mentored initially by Dora Betts (Kenya Arts Society) and later in Bristol by Anthony Rossiter*.   

Arriving in England brought confusion and unfamiliar difficulties, which were compounded by a deep sense of loss of the African environment.  These feelings of displacement fostered a sense of multiple nationalities and therefore no one identity.  It took a number of years to assimilate the old world which was new to me and begin the process of expanding my references – my “memory bank” as I call it.  Living in Britain and Europe gives me incredible exposure to an artistic and cultural environment.  I slowly enhanced my memory bank.  

Bristol is now home but my work reflects my experience of being uprooted and displaced through emigration and personal challenges.  I weave these into creative journeys, bridging the present into the past and vice versa.  I use colour and different mediums to explore a universal symbolism, for example the noble metals in the “Battle Cloaks” give the work a sense of belonging everywhere and nowhere.  My work continues to explore the nature of the human form as well as celebrating life and many of the paintings have a narrative quality.  

Drawing remains the cornerstone of my art.  I am gifted with the ability to draw; it is the basis of my work and helps me to explore ideas.  I have an inexplicable need to create and make a mark and the work is progressively moving towards abstraction.  In “Poetic Labyrinths” I use hand-line and my love of poetry to create written paintings. These explore philosophical journeys and the relationship of time and space.  They are inspired by poets such as T S Eliot and Pablo Neruda.

Other important influences come from Werner Herzog’s film “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” and the British Museum exhibition, “Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind”.  They show art forms from a vast period of time which instantly convey creativity, unimaginable skill and beauty.  A further influence was an inspirational visit to Kyoto, Japan in 2002 where I met artists who explore the medium of paper as an intrinsic part of their art and this is reflected in my more recent work.

My work is in private collections in Britain, Kenya, France, Sweden, Jordan, India, Canada, Australia and USA.