WILDFIYAH: THE REVOLUTION LIVES ON, 2019, Freedom Skatepark, Kingston, Jamaica

‘WILDFIYAH: THE REVOLUTION LIVES ON’ oil, spray paint and silk screen on canvas, 150 x 200cm. Original and prints available here.

British artist Iona Rowland has created a monumental artwork which tells the moving story of Jamaica’s Freedom Skatepark. The  skatepark is being built by Brixton based charity Flipping Youth who are aiming to reduce crime rates in Jamaica by offering a safe and inclusive space for the island’s thriving skate community. Currently Jamaica has the fifth highest murder rate in the world. 

Iona Rowland’s artwork ‘WILDFIYAH: THE REVOLUTION LIVES ON’ is comprised of multiple layers of oil, acrylic, spray paint and silk screen prints, and celebrates Jamaica’s rich skate culture and the individuals at the heart of it, from Ivah and Imani Wilmot to Shama ‘The Superman’ Beckford and the late, great Andre ‘Wildfiyah’ Thomson. The artist has dedicated the painting to ‘Wildfiyah’, a 20 year old Jamaican skater who was tragically murdered days days after filming the mini documentary ‘Ja Skate’. Throughout the short film he expressed his wish for a skatepark in Kingston to engage and support young people in Jamaica. Flipping Youth’s founder Will Wilson said ‘on seeing this video, I made a commitment that I would help Andre's dream come true and not stop campaigning until there was a skatepark in Kingston.’ 

Click here to find out more about the project and support Flipping Youth’s kickstarter campaign to build Freedom Skatepark’s Youth Centre.

Turn up the Bass, commissioned by Umbro and Derby County Football Club

Pride Park Stadium, Derby (UK)

‘Turn up the Bass’ is an immersive mural commissioned by Umbro and Derby County Football Club to mark the release of their much anticipated 2019 home kit. The six-metre wide mural comprises multiple layers of oil, spray paint and silk screen prints and celebrate Derby’s rich music culture throughout the nineties.

Iona Rowland has employed cut and paste methods used in early hip-hop music to juxtapose visual debris from the city’s diverse music scene with iconic moments from Derby County matches. 

The artwork forefronts Simon ‘Bassline’ Smith, part of British electronic production group Drumsound & Bassline Smith. Founded in Derby in the mid-nineties, the group were prolific in writing dub plates and DJing at the city’s ‘Technique’ nightclub. 

Iona explained: “The image of Bassline Smith has been silk screen-printed multiple times using a large benday dot. The dots are overlaid and misaligned to create the illusion of three dimensions so that when you stand in front of the mural it appears to move. Much like going to a drum and bass night or a football match, it’s experiential and immersive.”

In the centre of the mural, silk screen prints of musician and Derby County fan Niall Horan begin to metamorphose into one another, shifting between 2D and 3D - something the artist says will ‘feel cinematic for the viewers’. Adjacent to Niall is Iona’s depiction of Paulo Wanchope’s 1997 wonder goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford, realised in oil and spray paint. 

Also featured is the ‘Progress’ nightclub logo which has been screen-printed onto the artwork using the Iona’s signature ‘freestyle’ technique. During the 1990’s, ‘Progress’ helped Derby become a Mecca for house music and was innovative in its use of live musicians and resident DJs. The record artwork from ‘Everybody’ by Progress presents The Boy Wunda has been resampled by the artist using a ‘colour bleed print process’ and incorporated into the composition. 

The background of the painting gives a nod to one man band ‘White Town’ with a solarized, hand-rendered film still from his number one hit ‘Your Woman’, released in 1997, the video for which was filmed in Derby. 

‘Turn Up The Bass’ is a visual labyrinth of nineties music culture in Derby, evoking nostalgia, celebrating creative talent in the city, and underlining the synergies between music and football - intervals, tempo, rhythm, and most importantly passion.

To celebrate the start of the new season, Iona Rowland has announced the release of 100 signed limited edition prints of ‘Turn up the Bass’, available only through the artist’s website. Click here for more information.

The Evolution of Agatha Christie, 2019, commissioned by Shaftesbury PLC

Seven Dials, London (UK)

‘The Evolution of Agatha Christie’, a mixed media artwork by London based artist Iona Rowland, commemorates ninety years of Christie’s novel ‘The Seven Dials Mystery’. The piece comprises multiple layers of acrylic and spray paint, over which the artist has silk screen printed an archival image of Christie taken in 1926. With each silk screen print the image subtly changes, shifting according to where the viewer is standing. The artist says ‘the repetition and transposing of imagery communicates Christie’s dynamic and multi-faceted nature. It celebrates her as a creative literary force, but also as a woman evolving, adapting, becoming.’ Details.

Iona Rowland, Boom Cycle, Battersea Power Station, 2019

London (UK)

Film shot on location by @brooks.films

Boom Cycle presents ‘Boom Art’, a new commission from artist Iona Rowland which explores the relationship between art, music and fitness. The four metre wide mural features Boom Cycle riders and is, the artist says ‘a manifestation of the Boom Cycle experience... It celebrates empowerment, community and is totally experiential’. Another important element, she revealed, is the reference to hip hop music in the work of art. ‘Music is central to the Boom Cycle experience – when you’re in the studio, you’re totally transported to another level and that is in part down to the beats. In the artwork, I’ve utilised improvised cut and paste methods used in early hip hop music to create a visual remix, so that viewing the work is as immersive as riding at Boom Cycle.

Public artworks are site-specific, reaching, educating and inspiring audiences outside of the gallery context. Artworks are situated in retail districts, fitness studios, boxing gyms, football grounds and community centres. They are encountered by audiences who may not regularly visit art galleries or cultural institutions, and help viewers connect with their history, aspirations, values and sense of place. 

Upcoming public commissions:

Highgate Newtown Community Centre, London, UK