The Story of Our Logo

Painter Gieve Patel was none too happy when his colleagues on the Board asked him to design a logo for IFA. “I’m not good at this sort of thing,” he protested. But the trustees felt that he was being unduly modest, and pressed him to give it a try.

Gieve did not come empty-handed to the next Board meeting. What he brought with him, however, was not a set of logo studies, but a slide of one of his paintings. He would have no objection, he said, if IFA based its logo on this painting. The Trustees jumped at the idea.

The painting is called Water Tank at Nargol: Boy Bathing Buffaloes. The IFA logo borrows the upper right register of the painting. It shows a bird in full flight, climbing steeply, caught at the very last instant before it leaves the frame of the painting.

When something feels absolutely right, we often neglect to ask ourselves why. It seems unnecessary to do so. The Trustees responded spontaneously to the suddenly soaring bird, but they did not stop to ponder the reasons why the image worked so well for IFA.

Perhaps the reasons are plain to see. The rising bird evokes much that IFA upholds: freedom expressed, imagination in easy flight, the disregard for limits, and the joy of escape.

In 2015 we celebrated our 20th year of grantmaking and marked the occasion with a logo that acknowledges this history, while looking towards the future. The new logo centred Gieve Patel’s painting in a rectangle, with an origami bird and lettering celebrating 20 years of IFA.

The origami birds, in the current logo, echo the motif of the rising bird in the painting by Gieve Patel, mirroring our renewed engagement with the values it has always represented for us. It reflects our history of building relationships to bolster the arts, as we look forward to a future of creative possibilities in the arts, across the country.