Peter Howells’ large works have numerous inspirations, including mosaics of ancient Rome, tile work from Portugal and Brazil and street art murals. The figures and scenes of nature are often drawn with charcoal, and feature painted map and tile backgrounds, all constructed with individual pieces of cardboard. Themes include the certainty of change, stories of disaster and the interconnection between humanity and nature. Building works out of cardboard allows the works to scale to any space and for themes to be continued between adjacent panels.
Roda Viva (Wheel of Life) is a mixed media installation about uncertainty and impermanence, with imagery and themes inspired by the song Roda Viva by Brazilian artist Chico Buarque. There are four panels, O Destino (Destiny), A Baiana, A Roseira (The Rosebush) and Saudades (Longing), taken from the lyrics of the song. The entire work is interconnected with a rope symbolizing the link of events that comprise a lifetime.
Rio Doce is a large mixed media work constructed with over 500 pieces of cardboard, bisected by an earth-colored representation of the Doce River running from its inland origins to its flow into the ocean. The Brazilian river was devastated in 2015 by a disaster with a dam that collapsed and released 43.7 million cubic meters of poisonous mine tailings into the environment, eventually muddying the entire length of the river. Represented in the work are the names of people killed in the town that was overrun with mud and representations of the Krenak indigenous People, who were heavily impacted by the disaster.
The Cartography series is Howells’ original work constructed of cardboard tiles. Making art in a location where he could not purchase and transport large canvases, Howells made the work from small pieces of cardboard found on the street and pieced them together.
The use of repurposed materials allowed him to explore new themes, styles and scale without feeling the pressure of permanence attached to other mediums. He discovered that modularity also allowed the work to be continuously modified and expanded, being able to customize entire sections, adapting the artwork to fit in different locations. The work featured here is the combination of three different pieces, drawn and painted over a period of ten years.