“Images come in to my eyes – images come out of my hands”
Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?
I was given great encouragement by my art teachers from an early age for a simple reason – I have three elder brothers who are all artistic and my next eldest is eight years older than me. I was always trying to draw as well as him so picked up perspective and shading early. If you can draw a lorry from a three quarter view coming out of the picture, it’s great for your “street cred” at junior school.
So then your art teachers pick up on that and give you a bit of extra help and maybe even clean paint blocks and soft brushes!
I used to get to use the art room at lunchtimes when I was thirteen – thanks Mr Blake and Miss Rivers.
What would your school report have said about your art?
All I’ll say is that I really wanted those A’s.
I found the art periods fulfilling when other tutors wanted me to get a career using science and maths. Well, I hope they are happy as I now use science and maths in my art.
Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught?
I did a foundation year at the “West Sussex College of Art and Design” (now Northbrook College) in 1978 and enjoyed ceramics a lot. Then I went on to Exeter College of Art And Design from 1979 to 1982, achieving a B.A. (Hons) in fine art – majoring in ceramics.
Since that time I have built my own art practice alongside other jobs. My back catalogue contains artwork featuring most styles and subjects. I’ve also learned specialist decorative paint techniques and been inventive with building trade products.
What or who has inspired you over the years?
Being out in the landscape and observing it’s interaction with the elements.
Learning about the science of nature – the macro and micro world are endlessly fascinating.
Also the science behind perception – if I know why and how I am seeing something, and how it is put together, how it works – I can “feel” my subject as a spatial concept when I’m drawing or making it.
Oh! and CLAY! Wonderful primeval stuff! If I close my eyes working a piece of clay I feel what I can only describe as a “racial memory”. A thumb pot – it’s what your thumb is for.
What Artists do you admire?
So many for different reasons… Works I admire are those which speak to my soul – where you pick up on the artist’s excitement in exploring a subject. I admire skill too. I’m not going to name any artists because I like bits of everything and wildly differing genres.
But I know what I like and why. You want one influential name? O.K… Norman Ackroyd.
What is your favourite piece of work (yours and someone else)?
Difficult — my tastes change – some of my small mono-prints inspired by Dartmoor are strong contenders, and some of the larger “landscape bowl forms”. O.K. maybe the “Celtic” style “Loving Cup”, up close so you can see the gnarly glaze.
My favourite piece of someone else’s? Most of John Buckland-Wright’s prints.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far, what are you proud to have achieved?
In the genre of realistic painting, my donated picture to Shoreham Lifeboat Station.
It’s an honour to have a painting accepted for display in the new boathouse by the crew – those guys would tell you if you had not done a good job.
And people have said the seascape makes them not want to be there. Major compliment.
What have you sacrificed for your art?
Living in luxury by deciding to teach and exhibit my own work when I could be making a lot more money in the building and decorating trade…..and a lot of small hours in the morning.
What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?
I can’t pin it down to one so ……
“I think you’ve had enough —”
“Everyone is equal even if they think they are not”.
“Take time to smell the flowers”.
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?
Build your skills and knowledge base. Hold on to the originality of your work and believe in yourself. Listen to other’s advice but sit back and evaluate if it’s relevant to you. And most of all – enjoy your work (Oh, and listen to that little voice that says that particular thing could have gone better and find out how to achieve it).
How do you start a piece of work?
Depends what it is and in what media.
Drawing – get on and do it from reference.
Painting (realism) – work from life or build a composition around quality reference material. Sometimes I use “Photoshop” to build my composition maybe in conjunction with “Daz 3d” or “Hexagon” 3d digital modelling programmes.
Painting (abstract) – I just employ techniques gained from art and specialist decorating skills to explore a wide range of media. I have an archive of images in my head that flag up when a technique produces certain textures or atmospheres/ moods, and work gets pushed in that direction.
Digital – I enjoy re-contextualizing photographic images I’ve taken to produce sci-fi and fantasy works.
Ceramics – get out a lump of clay and play with it! (O.K. I sketch ideas for future ceramic works and make notes).
When is it finished?
As time goes by – sooner than I think. It’s having the guts to stop at “spontaneity.”
Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?
Art / Life – Whichever? What it means?
Here are some quotes and song lines (incidentally look that up regarding aboriginal culture).
1) “Life is a state of mind” – closing credit of the film “Being There” with Peter Sellers.
2) “I have always looked out from behind these eyes, This is the way it has always been, Could it ever have been different?” – Dave Gilmour, Pink Floyd.
3) “Spatial awareness is to know yourself in relationship to the Universe – overcome the vertigo, shut your eyes and fly. There is no up or down, only relativity” – Me 2010
Does music help with your creativity? If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?
Sometimes, Mike Oldfield and Pink Floyd.
What is your favourite medium to work with/in?
Clay, Water, Wood, Fire, Charcoal, Rag – Sorry, they are inseparable.
Do you have a lucky or favourite something that you use that has been with you forever?
My ability to think. And lately my “Podmore Chameleon” portable gas kiln.
Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for?
I strive to produce works that communicate to people on a different level than conversation.
As for living the dream? Apparently, if you attain your dreams then that removes the “anticipation” of maybe attaining your dreams. And it’s all about “Anti..ci…….p..p..pation”. (Richard O’Brien has a lot to answer for.)
Is there anything you avoid with your art?
Thank you so very much Marcus, just being there to witness the process of firing was great fun especially in the wind and rain!! Also a big thank you to you, your model and the artists at your Heene Gallery life drawing class.