Samuel Allerton (°1976) was born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa where he enjoyed the freedom of a carefree childhood, first living on the banks of the Bonza Bay river and later on a farm surrounded by open spaces. He was the second son of four children and grew up in a household where music was an integral part of family life.

Samuel excelled at playing the cello. Both his father and many members of his extended family were medical doctors and some of Samuel’s fondest memories are of spending time in the hospital with his dad, watching him operate and sparking a fascination with human anatomy, which has stayed with him. From a very early age he showed a passion for two things – art and nature – both of which have moulded his life and his work.

Samuel showed a rebellious creative streak early on and went on to finish high school with distinctions in both art and music. Medicine was definitely not where his passions lay and after spending some time in the UK at Ampleforth College and attending summer school at the Slade in London, there was no doubt that the creative arts was where his future was destined to be.

He returned to Cape Town to do an Honours degree at the renowned Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town. At Michaelis Samuel was able to experiment freely and explore different artistic mediums, from darkroom photography to the extraordinary wonders of the bronze casting process. All these experiences finally culminating in his love of creating in the ageless mediums of bronze, wood, and stone, his preferred materials to this day.

The ever-present influences of Cycladic and primitive art, alongside contemporary pop culture, and the influences of mass production can be seen throughout Samuel’s artistic progression. They were evident even in his student works. He completed his studies with distinctions and went from being a student to working full-time as a sculptor.

Initially he followed the natural progression of working with interior designers and architects, making works for clients and commissions. Soon he was approached by gallerists interested in representing his work.

Samuel supplemented his burgeoning career as a sculptor with working in the modeling industry, winning the Men’s Health Look competition, as well as putting his creative skills to work in the film industry.

More than anything else, Samuel is inspired by nature, animals, and wild spaces. In many of his works, there is often a direct reference to man’s relationship with nature. He either openly pays homage to nature or fights for its cause through social commentary by highlighting man’s horrific abuse and neglect.

Samuel has spent time in Mozambique, on the Niassa reserve, where he used found and natural materials, to create a series of sculptures in response to the devastation he witnessed, due to the logging industry and the war against poaching in and around the reserve.

More recently he also travelled to the Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to some of the world’s last surviving mountain gorillas, to spend time observing these gentle giants in their fragile natural habitat, which is under severe threat from human activity and poaching. This experience deeply affected Samuel and was the driving inspiration for the Soul Series of sculptures, which he created on his return.

He approaches his work from two very different formal perspectives, resulting in two styles which -although they seem to be polar opposites- both say the same thing.

His sculptures tend to be simple, contemplative, often solemn – drawing influences from artists like Mark Rothko, Henry Moore, Anthony Gormley, Isamu Naguchi and Brancusi.

His drawings and paintings on the other hand are direct, impulsive outbursts, either shouting at the world for help or reprimanding man for his hypocrisies and blatant injustices towards nature and towards each other. These pieces are more aggressive, overt, explicit. The drawings are honest, often unsettling and always intimate.

Samuel combines quirk, primitive and contemporary symbolism, deliberate sentimentality and emotion to “through the personal touch on the universal.” His sculptures reflect a simple, contemplative approach, with a playful contradiction, making the works both thought-provoking and whimsical, while exuding a powerful primitive source that is timeless.

Samuel is currently based in the Cape Winelands town of Franschhoek where he has a studio in the Banhoek Valley, surrounded by the majestic Jonkershoek Mountains.

He lives with his wife Heike, who is also an artist, and his two teenage children, Noa and Tyler. When he is not working in his studio, he can be found in the ocean, where he loves to surf and free-dive, or exploring the beautiful surrounding mountains of the Western Cape with his faithful companion, his dog, Mobi.