Walter de Melo Koch was born in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique to a German/Portuguese father and a Portuguese mother. From 1955 to 1963 he was privately educated in his home town by a tutor Dona Natália Rosetti. In 1961 his father passed away and he was sent to boarding school is South Africa. While on holiday at home in Lourenço Marques, Walter attended drawing classes at the Núcleo de Arte under António Quadros. In 1969 he matriculated from the Damlin College and went on to study art under Cecil Skotnes. He also forged a lifetime friendship with Carl Jeppe. From 1971 to 1973, he studied Graphic Fine Art under Gunther van der Reis at the Pretoria Art School.
Of his work, Walter says; “The Oxford Dictionary describes the word ‘QUOTATIONS’ as: ‘A group of words taken from a text or speech and repeated by someone other than the original author or speaker. A short musical passage or visual image taken from one piece of music or work of art and used in another.’ I collect ‘visual quotes’ from tags, indigenous images and urban graffiti artists which I combine with some of my own ‘visual quotes’ from previous works. The collection of ‘visual quotes’ is catalogued/archived in drawing pads, pieces of paper and photos and are used as references for paintings. The painting process starts by paging through this collection of ‘visual quotes’/images until one stands out and gets selected. This selected image is then drawn onto the canvas and the process is repeated in search of the next image/quote. This process becomes a dialogue between the stored images and the images drawn on the canvas. When the image on the canvas feels comfortable and complete the painting is finished. I enjoy working in this way because I find that I discover new paintings as I go along rather than working toward a preconceived idea. These ideas can be expressed in several ways. There isn’t a right or a wrong way. Sometimes ideas are expressed in an abstract language and at other times in something more figurative – I find this choice of language is very exciting.”
Walter now resides in UK and in 2012, he received a Highly Commended award from the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.