AFRICAN-BORN printmaker Amanda Roseveare celebrates jazz and blues greats, BB King, Muddy Waters et al, in her debut Pocklington Arts Centre show.

Her work once featured in the stage backdrop at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert at Wembley Stadium in 1988, and now her latest collection is on display in PAC's first-floor exhibition until May 31.

Amanda was born in Lagos, Nigeria, growing up with parents who loved jazz, and so it is no surprise it inspired her art.

Now living in Nunburnholme, near Pocklington, she says: "My father was an accomplished jazz pianist and in his spare time he always sought out other musicians to ‘jam’ with. I remember many late-night jazz ‘sessions’ as a kid."

York Press:

Muddy Waters, by Amanda Roseveare

Amanda stayed in West Africa until the early 1970s, when she returned to England as a teenager, before later heading once more to the African continent, where she lived in various countries. "These memories and experiences play a large part in inspiring my art," she says.

"I produce vibrant expressive paintings with a broad range of subject matter. I might take inspiration from current world affairs, or contemporary culture or memories, and infuse my images with the colour, energy and visual vocabulary of Africa.

“When I lived in Mozambique, many of the artists and musicians who had been in exile during the civil war had started to return, injecting new life and excitement. Maputo night life was great with its pavement restaurants, Marabenta and Afro-jazz clubs. It was easy to meet and mix with other artists and this atmosphere fed into my work.

“I started producing large, colourful canvases and mono-prints, exhibiting and selling through local pop-up galleries, and this rekindled my interest in jazz.”

York Press:

Playing Lucille: Amanda Roseveare's portrait of BB KIng

This love of jazz is evident in the canvases and lino-prints on display in Pocklington. "I’m also inspired by young jazz artists of today. There's a big revival of jazz/Nu Jazz coming out of Los Angeles, London and New York that has a really young audience," she says. "It blends musical styles such as funk, soul, electronic, and free improvisation and I’m excited by that.

“I’m enjoying discovering artists like Kamasi Washington, Ravi Coltrane, Thundercat and Christian Scott, as well as listening to Afro Jazz and Afro Beat."

Amanda studied graphic design in Newcastle, where her love of printmaking developed before specialising in screen-printing and illustration. On leaving college, she produced handmade ceramic floor tiles and built mosaic wall murals on a building site; designed and built theatre sets for friends; produced illustrations for publications and took up an artist-in-school residency.

In 1984, Amanda began to design and print African-inspired art on T-shirts and cloth, ideas that grew into KWATZ T-shirts. By spring 1985, the business was ran from an attic studio in central Newcastle and two years later relocated to a larger workshop at Prema Arts Centre, Gloucestershire.

York Press:

Ain't That A Shame: Fats Domino at the piano, by Amanda Roseveare

"The 1980s was a busy time for political activism and campaigning for many diverse groups," says Amanda. "I was a member of the anti-apartheid group in Newcastle and, to help with fundraising, I designed and printed some T-shirts. There was such a big demand that the London office decided to buy the design and pay our group the royalties made on sales.

“So began a fruitful collaborative relationship between myself, the Anti-Apartheid Movement (Britain) and AA Enterprises, a cooperative set up to raise funds and promote trade with the South African Frontline States."

This relationship lasted until the early 1990s, with Amanda's T-shirt designs being adapted for mugs, wrapping paper, tea towels, emblems – and that Mandela concert backdrop.

Move forward to 2019 and her PAC show. "I hope people will enjoy the colours and lively subject matter of the work on show.," she says. "The exhibition space is the ideal setting for my paintings and prints; I think they create the right ambience."

Entry is free, restricted to regular opening hours only.