Walter de Melo Koch was born in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique in the late 1940s 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.
“One of the major influences in my life was my father who had actually grown up very close to the local population. He spoke Shangaan fluently and was highly regarded among the local people in and around Maputo. He told me amazing stories that he had heard while sitting around camp fires in an Africa that even in those days was ever changing.
His stories of the local people stirred my curiosity and I had the freedom to be able to ride my bike, out of the city, along foot paths into some very rural villages. The sounds and smells, the welcoming and friendly Mozambican people fascinated me even as a young boy, where I experienced for myself a very rural Africa.
But it was not just the people that I found fascinating – their home made pottery, implements and woodcarvings really interested me, especially the carvings of animals. The animal carvings captured, in a very unique naive way, the essence of the animal they were depicting and for me they went beyond that, in that they actually encapsulated the spirit of Africa.
To this day I find myself drawn to rural African carvings because they emanate that essence, and perhaps even the spirit, of the animal they are depicting and it is this essence that I attempt to convey in my animal drawings.”
Walter now resides in UK and in 2012, he received a Highly Commended award from the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.