Gwen Pew puts together ten key things to know about the British artist who transforms songs by big-name musicians into explosions of colours on canvas.
31 Mar 2013: British artist Tim Wakefield, 50, never considered becoming an artist, but fell into the trade after working with creative people for over two decades. His unique project, titled Soundwaves Art, started in 2009 and involves transforming songs by big-name musicians – including tracks by Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, ABBA and Bon Jovi – into explosions of colours on canvas, and then getting the original legends to sign the final work. Proceeds from their sales go to various charities that he supports. His second solo exhibition at Icon Gallery features pieces that he’s created in the past few years – though none of them have been seen in Asia before – as well as several pieces from his personal collection.
Wakefield first started Soundwaves Art as he wanted to create artworks with musicians that could be used for fund-raising: ‘A friend who worked in sound recording was showing me images one day and the idea grew from there.’
The first musicians he worked with were Coldplay: ‘I dropped off a canvas at their North London studio just as Chris Martin was parking his bike outside, though I didn’t recognise him at first!’
He has never been turned down by anyone: ‘Now we have such a great range of musicians on board, others are happy to take part.’
The most difficult thing for Wakefield when it comes to his art is finding the time and space to focus his attention: ‘Locking myself away for days on end is the best way to be really prolific.’
The colours of the sound waves are symbolic: ‘A love song would not be represented by sharp lines in black and red just as much as a rock song in pink and blue swirls wouldn’t work.’
He translates music into art digitally: ‘I have developed techniques to customise the images that appear in the recording process. A kind of ECG [electrocardiogram], or heartbeat of the song, if you like.’
His art is deeply personal: ‘I would only work on collections that I can relate to.’
He’s a perfectionist: ‘I reject more than I keep. What I love when it is finished, I may not like the next day, so there may be a few dozen versions before I finally settle on a piece.’
Apart from Soundwaves Art, Wakefield is planning on collaborating with a friend of his who paints in oil: ‘Early days yet, but we are getting some great results.’
Right now, he’s working on a series for UK charity War Child that celebrates 50 years of great British music: ‘We will have artwork signed from as diverse a range of artists as The Clash, Paul Weller, Elton John, The Pet Shop Boys and the Arctic Monkeys.’