It might be one of the world’s earliest expressions of art, but our love affair with decorative wall painting is far from waning. Kathryn Conway meets one of the city’s brightest talents in this artistic medium to soak up its enduring appeal
For as long as human beings have roamed the earth, it seems we have had an incessant yearning to make our decorative mark. Earlier this year, scientists made the remarkable discovery of a stencilled hand in a Spanish cave that was reportedly thought to be at least 66,700 years old – the work not of European Homo sapiens but of Neanderthals. Go back further still to the epoch of Homo erectus and, if the 500,000-year-old zigzag engravings on a shell found in Indonesia are to be believed, then our ties to making symbolic art are not only prehistoric, but may also challenge thevery basis of our evolutionary understanding ofthe cognitive functions of early humans. Indeed, while we, the planet’s 21st-century inhabitants, might think of ourselves as free-thinking, demiurgic individuals, you only need consider the aesthetic prowess of ancient civilisations – particularly the exquisite frescoes found in the Roman Villa of Livia that date back to 30BC, for example – to appreciate how little our decorative tastes have changed.