About my work
For more than 30 years I’ve worked internationally in mosaic, painting, public art, theatre design and live art performance.
My extensive public and private commissions offer opportunities to collaborate with other artists on elaborate and technically innovative site-specific pieces, which also present exciting challenges to make them work in exacting situations.
Children have grown up skipping on The Birdman of Gloucester Road and climbing on limestone bowls in Tidal on Brighton seafront, which feature in holiday photos taken by tourists from all over the world.
My work involves me in journeys across many disciplines. Recently, one of these involved carving in chalk caves in Bromley for BBC’s Horizon programme, The Lost Tribes of Humanity. In complete contrast, I worked with Jo Thompson on her Gold Medal winning garden at Chelsea Flower Show in 2016.
Drawing is always the foundation – every piece of work begins this way because along with painting it is the method I use continuously to realise ideas. And as part of this process I use digital media, such as ipad drawing, alongside the oldest traditions of encaustic, egg tempera and oil painting.
My ideas evolve through colour, materials, atmosphere and sometimes narrative. It’s a meditative sifting process and a place to work things out. I use my own versions of very old methods such as encaustic (working with pure pigment in hot wax) used by the Greeks as far back as 5th century BC, and egg tempera made with my own hens eggs. I have made drawing ink from Samuel Palmer’s recipe using honey and creating lamp black pigment from a tallow candle on the back of a spoon. The combination of creating traditional mediums and then con-temporising them for my own purpose comes from years of wandering in museums and feeling a bond with makers across cultural boundaries and time.
In public art I create atmospheric spaces using whichever material is appropriate. This might be in the choice of colours to reflect from mosaic tiles on a certain site, or the way a group of objects will determine how people use a space.
I am part of a community of artists in Brighton and Sussex, which came together to set up Red Herring studios in 1984. A small group of us decided we needed affordable spaces to work in and took over the old Paragon photographic workshop in West Street (site of a former workhouse). This was the first large artists’ studio in Brighton, providing space for 30 practitioners. Over the years we have inhabited most of the interesting old buildings in the city (many now demolished!). Red Herring still flourishes, 32 years later.
I have a long term relationship with Fabrica gallery, which has invested me with the freedom to experiment and develop areas of outreach work including a two year residency using drawing. This has led to events such as mass drawing for White Nights for three years running – one of which attracted more than 2,500 people. I also run workshops for artists, staff, volunteers and special needs groups around the themes of their exhibition programme.
Born in London, I’ve lived and worked in East Sussex for more than 30 years.