I have met Afzal on a number of occasions and felt it would be a great challenge and accomplishment to make a portrait that reflected his strong engaging personality. He returned from his Haj pilgrimage recently and we had a deep conversation about the experience. Not long afterwards I witnessed him at a public event (Soul Fire Sunday) following completion of his carpenter work on the event structures, where he engaged with great interest with the artists carrying out their varied large scale public drawings. In traditional working style his carpenter pencil protruded from his hair/cap. His working jacket boar the residues of past jobs and his dark belts held the shinning tools of the trade.
If I could capture his image in discussion it may be the basis for a portrait. On review of the smart phone photographs there was a particular image that reflected my impressions of Afzal, his committed engagement and demeanour. The drawing process could begin which will be described elsewhere. We met again at an art event. This time in social clothing and with his daughter. He asked if he could show her my and painting and graffiti artist Mohammed Ali’s studio and I agreed, but mentioned there is a surprise for him.
We entered the shared studio which is impressive with painted, drawn images hanging and pitched against the walls. One of the painted prints of Afzal that Mohammed and I had worked on stood against the back wall. I introduced them both to it which was met with genuine surprise. Both Afzal and his daughter beamed with admiration and quite speechless to begin with. I lifted the painted print up to show them its physicality. I turned to the drawing table where I had 4 different print interpretation. First was the ‘clean’ monotone portrait. Afzal responded with his big demonstrative smile: “You’ve got me right. You’ve even got the detail of my tools . I like the rough drawing of the belt and the pencil. You should colour red or green” His daughter expressed her enthusiasm: “Its amazing, i’ve never seen him like this.”
I shared the monotone on blue, on orange, blue on organge and asked which would you like for yourself? Afzal chose the monotone: “I am standing proud.” I offered to stamp and sign it and asked what shall we title it? We named it together Carpenter’s Peak