The alternative world of Onomatopoeia created by Charles Avery

Through his drawings, sculpture, paintings, installations and text, Charles Avery tells a story about his fictional island and its inhabitants. They have their own religion, culture, nature and architecture. His narrative is inspired by his childhood spent on the Isle of Mull off the West coast of Scotland. This helped him to create a framework for his project The Islanders.

His Island is located in the middle of the great archipelago. With the capital Onomatopoeia, this place is an interesting cultural and tourist destination, thanks to the first settlers who built the metropolis. Avery actively works on his project since 2004. The first presentation of The Islanders: An Introduction was exhibited at Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art in London, 2008.

His recent focus is on the citizens of Onomatopoeia, creatures very similar to the humans. Drawing them in everyday situations and dressed in clothes that do not belong to any period of time or any culture, Avery represents the ahistorical and apolitical world, questioning the issues of globalization and utopia. In this mythic landscape live the different creatures who come out from their world into the real one in the form of sculptures.

The Islander’s have many characteristics; they don’t like the number four and right angles, so they sit on three or five side tables because of more comfortable relations. He enjoys creating the furniture for his imaginative world. Trying to constantly upgrade his ideas, there’s always something new happening, the city is developing and expanding. Avery hopes that The Islanders will be his life’s work with the culmination in the form of the encyclopedic book. He found the basis for his models in the artwork of Schiele, Daumier, Redon and Frank Lloyd Right and New Yorker cartoons.


Avery’s drawing skills and powerful imagination are clearly visible on his five meters wide drawing Untitled (View of the Port of Onomatopoeia). With the details focused on the center of the paper, he represents the group of strange inhabitants and the visitors who have arrived by boat. Very important for the understanding of his work is the relation between the drawings and the sculpture. The first ones are only the narratives, but sculptural things are the items that are sold to the tourists and therefore removed from their original context and put in reality, creating the connection between two worlds.

Creating a unique mixture of mediums, permeating drawings, sculpture, painting and textual messages, Avery asserts his imagination in the attempt to make one different world. His characters have their own philosophy of living, their own culture, habits and rules.  Letting the narratives emerge, improvisation remained the main guide of his imaginative spirit.