Body of Work: David Bellamy

Justin Patrick
david bellamy With our monthly Body of Work feature we profile our favourite local creatives by unpacking the ‘anatomy’ of their brains to discover what makes them tick. Cape Town-based printmaker David Bellamy, the founder of Bbellamy & Bbellamy, has mastered the art of textile design. Feet: It’s flip-flops in the summer and boots or brogues in the winter for me. I also like trainers, but they seem to wear out quickly. As I work en plein air when doing preliminary sketches to research new designs, strong footwear is essential. Legs: When I lived in London, I commuted two hours a day by bicycle, so I have strong legs and a slow heart rate. This year, I walked along the cliff paths near St Ives in Cornwall’s springtime. At home, I go for beach walks or hikes in the mountains with my dog Tommy. It’s important to maintain a connection to nature. Hands: I’m all about the hands, whether that involves pencil sketching or painting. After buying an edition of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Lost Arles Sketchbook, I’ve been inspired to use a scratchy reed to draw on linen and have been trying to understand his mark making, which can translate to fabric very well. In the studio, we cut stencils and use linoprints and paintbrushes because our focus is on handmade, labour-intensive textiles. Head: I enjoy the biographies of artists and designers, and am currently reading a biography of artist Gerhard Richter and one of Josef Frank, whose joyous designs emerged in the harsh 1930s. Then there is the book The Letters of Samuel Beckett, which I’m reading because our times seem so uncertain and I want to learn what it was like for him living in a difficult period. Ears: Drawing can be lonely, so I listen to music when I work. Meredith Monk’s modernist vocals resonate with the sparseness of execution in my textile designs. Mouth: Taking fabrics from a rough idea to finished lengths involves much talking with many people. Precision in descriptions is key, especially with regard to production in the studio. As for food, I like dishes with crunch and texture, such as Indian curries with fresh ginger. Eyes: Because vision is so primary in my work, I worry about losing my sight – best get as much done as I can now! Seeing the filmic biographies of Tacita Dean is the reason I often visit London’s Tate Modern. Design can be thought of as a form of autobiography because you document your life. Nose: I follow my nose when deciding what to create next. I love the starchy scent of linen, and test the quality of base cloths by smelling them. Visit for more.