Colombian artist Catalina Carvajal is about to exhibit in Felixstowe and the major influence behind her work is her migration story, which has taken her from Latin America to Suffolk. Here she explains how she uses art to reconcile her origins with her new life in East Anglia
Hailing from Bogota, Colombia, and having lived in Mexico City for a decade, it probably comes as no surprise that Catalina Carvajal’s artwork is heavily influenced by Latin and Central American culture. And yet, having settled more than 8500 miles away, in Suffolk, there’s a new influence which can be spotted in her work.
The artist will be displaying a range of work at Gallery 142 in Felixstowe later this month, and throughout the exhibition, entitled A Common Ground, Catalina will be painting wall art in her signature eye-catching style – examples of which can already be spotted in Ipswich and Felixstowe. It will go on display outside the gallery when finished.
Catalina will offer art lovers an opportunity to enjoy different aspects of her illustration and painting – from the bold and vibrant to more thought-provoking pieces. Her work has connections to mythology, spirituality, and tropical biodiversity.
The Ipswich-based artist comments: ‘I’m excited to share my art, which is surreal, fun, compelling and weird, with more people! My story and mixed emotions of leaving my home to settle in Suffolk comes through in my work, and I try to convey my own view of Latin America – differing from the stereotypical ideas, to say the least. Having spent a decade in Mexico City which is known for its incredible wall art, I also bring an influence of activism in my own murals.
‘My tropical heart has settled down in beautiful Britain, and I hope my exhibition will resonate with people who spot influences from Suffolk which is our common ground.’
Catalina’s work may be captivating, but it is also a way for her to make sense of life 8,500 miles away from her motherland.
She adds: ‘I use my art to reconcile the diverse, sometimes absurd, and contrasting aspects of my origins and life in Suffolk. The results are never clear and usually surreal, but my art releases the pressure that comes with uprooting myself and moving to a very different life. It helps me to understand the world around me. I also love working with my ideas of integration during times of division, and learning about other people, their needs and their world – I love giving shape to their ideas, and I always give 100%.’
With the arrival of Covid in early 2020, Catalina saw cancelled commissions and postponed exhibitions, but she benefitted from a growing interest in outdoor public art. Catalina also spent lockdowns developing her art, which became a lifeline, guiding her through the toughest times of the pandemic.
A COMMON GROUND by Catalina Carvajal takes place at 142 Gallery, Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, from Thursday November 25 to Wednesday December 1, 10am – 4pm. The public is welcome to visit Catalina as she paints the mural, for a chat and cup of hot Colombian coffee. She is also inviting businesses to sponsor the mural next to Gallery 142. Contact Catalina for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Catalina on Instagram: @catalinacarvajalr
Featured image: Catalina Carvajal by a mural for WamFest Felixstowe