I was born in Sutton Coldfield and subsequently spent the first years of my life in Birmingham with my parents and my older brother, Andrew. I have also lived in Aylesbury, Suffolk, a small village in Buckinghamshire, Coventry, Birmingham City Centre and Winslow. Whilst I moved areas as a child with my family, I have spent the majority of my time in Buckinghamshire.
My main interests from GCSE school age and through my A-levels were Art and Music. After leaving school I attended Amersham and Wycombe College. I achieved both a City and Guilds award in Life Painting and Drawing, and a BTEC Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. My final project reflected the main interests identified at school age, employing both painting and music within the production of artwork through research into the condition ‘Synaesthesia’.
I was asked to work with a company in the Isle of Man in order to produce artwork for the walls of a two-story office building. I produced a total of 36 paintings to be displayed within the office space, the corridors and the public reception area. These works were produced in oils, acrylics and mixed media on canvas and were of differing sizes. I was also required to undertake a project to create a site-specific artwork in the open stairway area of the building. The outcome of this project was a modern wall mural, adding colour and interest to the space. The final commission for the company was for a specific wall in a room with no natural light. I produced a triptych using acrylic paints on canvas, depicting my own impression of a landscape with specific importance to the company’s history. I received a commission from a second company to produce two paintings for a wall in the office space. I also completed a private commission for an entrance space. This commission required a consideration of the space before creating a design for the proposal. This proposal was approved before the production of the final pieces.
After completing my Foundation Diploma, I attended Coventry University to study towards a BA in Fine Art. The title of my final Dissertation was ‘Using Particular Examples to Support Your Views, Research and Consider the Role of Influence in Your Own Field of Practice and Also Perhaps the Anxiety of Influence’. The exhibition displayed oil paintings and pen and ink drawings reflecting the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan in Grand Cayman. The experience of producing artwork inspired by this natural disaster was all the more poignant as I had seen first hand the impact of the devastation on the property owned by my family. I also experienced the loss of habitat in protected areas and whole buildings swept away from once beautiful shorelines. Even with such significant alteration, much of the Island’s beauty remained and was restored. The paintings were dark and reflective of sadness, but at the same time employed a sense of light and freshness. The developing works encouraged a more expressive approach to my painting style, resulting in a large final piece that dominated the space and engendered a great deal of interest and offers of purchase. I was also a student representative, which included training sessions, group meetings, presentations and communication with tutors and peers.
I organised a solo exhibition of my artwork in the Winslow Centre in Buckinghamshire. I arranged an evening private view, having secured sponsorship for the refreshments, sent out invitations and created posters for local businesses. I sold 7 artworks and 2 commissions were taken on the evening. The exhibition included large canvasses displayed on easels, large freestanding boards displaying smaller canvasses, drawings and photographs, many sketchbooks of different sizes, and several extra paintings not included in the main exhibit. The experience of organizing and curating this exhibition was invaluable and the feedback from the visitors was extremely encouraging.
After completing my Bachelors degree, I attended Birmingham Institute of Art and Design to undertake a Masters degree in Fine Art. I was awarded a distinction in my final dissertation entitled, ‘Beyond Words’. I focused on one specific research area throughout my MA, developing my interest in the potential for music and painting to work alongside one another to create an immersive exhibition space. The dissertation reflected these concerns alongside the interrogation of the influence of writers such as Bachalard, Bergson and Proust on my own art practice. My final exhibition consisted of eight large oil paintings built up in layers onto already patterned fabrics. Each fabric was different and each was altered, enhanced or obliterated completely through the application of base primers of different densities, as well as through the development of layers of oil paint. This layering technique encouraged complex surfaces with areas of depth and areas of surface detail. The Island of Jersey in the Channel Islands inspired the paintings. I have visited Jersey every year with my family, and as such, I have developed a strong affinity to all aspects of the island. My inspirations range from something as small as the pattern on a carpet so ingrained in my childhood experiences, to a beautiful bay or a castle surrounded by water. My main sources of inspiration were the small details within my experiences. These details were documented through sketching, photography, writing and object collection. The exhibition also incorporated a specially designed sound piece, which involved separate streams of sound being played through speakers placed within different parts of the exhibit. The speakers were not visible but the sound heard altered as the viewer moved around the paintings. All streams could be heard together from the centre of the exhibition space. The paintings themselves were displayed in an arc to encourage the effect of the different sound streams. This also encouraged the pieces to be viewed as a cohesive exhibit rather than as individual works. The fabric was stretched onto a large wall throughout production, but no frames were used and the works were exhibited with raw edges and were allowed to trail on the floor of the space. The canvas pieces were fixed on wires at the top of the paintings, allowing the works to fall freely away from the wall. Some movement was encouraged as people moved within the exhibition space. The artworks were part of a group exhibition with a private view and ongoing show.
Upon completion of my MA, I began researching towards my Doctorate in Fine Art. I applied for a grant to study my research subject, and I gained a fully funded award to pursue my research degree from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This award included tuition fees and further funding for living costs and other expenses. I also secured funding for a study trip to a Salzburg art gallery for the ‘Sound of Art’ exhibition, and attended the Venice Biennale in 2009 and 2011. During the first year of research I also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice. This qualification was invaluable to the successful completion of literature reviews and critiques. It also enabled me to take full advantage of research opportunities and methodologies, and included developing my communication skills through the presentation of my intentions and findings to groups of peers and supervisors and students. The qualification was also concerned with the ethics of research and the placement of my own specific area of research within a wider field of research.
My PhD involved both a written thesis and the presentation of a final exhibit of artworks. The final exhibition consisted of four large-scale oil paintings, three measuring 9×7 feet, and one measuring 8×6 feet. The pieces were unframed but fixed to the exhibition walls from the top of the canvasses. My paintings were inspired by the experience of encountering my favourite places. As in my MA, my main inspirations originated from Jersey. The paintings reference details, scenes, feelings and an overall sense of space. These sources include stones, shells, rock pools, crevices in granite, sand dunes, shimmering water, glass reflections, flowers, colours and shapes. The surfaces were developed through the inclusion of these details, objects, shapes and spaces inspired by collected information from the scenes in question. The works were then developed through the rendering of areas of detail, washes, dense colour and differing brush marks, building areas of depth and intensity, areas of space and flatness, and areas of cloud-like softness. The paintings are neither abstract nor figurative but convey sources that are abstracted to different levels. There are areas that can be identified, areas that can be guessed at and areas where source information is very subtle, remote or obliterated completely. The paintings could be viewed as an exhibit in their own right, but they were also central to the practical application of my research, testing my developing ideas alongside my written work. My PhD thesis is entitled ‘Towards a New Way of Thinking in Painting Through the Application of Analagous Notions of Listening and Analysis in Acousmatic Music’. The keywords involved within my thesis are Painting, Acousmatic, Listening, Viewing, Spectromorphology, Surrogacy and Analogy. (Please see the Abstract or the full thesis for further information). I was awarded the title of Doctor of Philosophy in Fine Art following the successful submission of the theoretical and practical research and subsequent viva examination.
I undertook several other commissions during my years of research. These included a commission from a company in Gibraltar for an oil painting of an historical building that was of significance to the business. This commission involved complex technical drawing as well as painting in oils. I completed a commission of a double portrait using pencil on canvas, a commission for a small oil painting and a commission for a pencil drawing. I completed two oil paintings inspired by Venetian scenery and I was commissioned to produce two oil paintings of local buildings. Further to my commissions, I developed my first oil-based self-portrait. This was a departure from my painting practice, enabling me to employ my painting approach to a different subject.
Further to commissions, exhibitions and research, I worked as a tutor for Buckinghamshire Adult Learning. I taught both Oil Painting and Mixed Media. I included elements of Art History within my sessions as well as practical theory, colour mixing and studio-based practice. Within this time, I completed a PTLLS course (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) with Buckinghamshire Adult Learning. I also attended a training course entitled, ‘Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults’.
I was asked to adapt my usual large-scale oil painting practice to develop illustrations for a children’s story. This is ongoing, but involves small-scale drawings developed into small oil paintings to accompany the written text.
In August 2017 to January 2018, I was the Artist in Residence at Poole Museum for the anniversary of the ‘Sea Music’ sculpture by Anthony Caro. The residency was supported by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund. The residency culminated in an exhibition, which also featured in the ‘Evolver’ magazine. I also ran an oil painting workshop day in the museum in November 2017 and a ‘Meet the Artist’ event in October 2017 in the Poole Arms on the Quay. I also created a cover illustration for a book commissioned by Poole Museum as part of the project in partnership with Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund. I regularly updated a blog during the residency and used Twitter to keep the public involved within the stages of production as well as key dates for events and exhibitions.
I try to play tennis several a week – sunshine is an added bonus! I’m not exactly an expert and my consistency can be slightly questionable, but I do give my competitors (and friends) a good fight! As of 2018, I am the Club Secretary for the Committee at Aylesbury Tennis Club in Buckinghamshire, having been a Club Representative in 2017. I also play for the Ladies and Mixed Doubles teams which I love! I also enjoy a game of Golf but I definitely favour a tennis court!
I really enjoy playing my ukulele, and I can manage an entertaining rendition of tunes ranging from Jessie J’s Price Tag and Coldplay’s The Scientist through to Doris Day classics (secretly my favourites!). I also have a Banjo but my abilities thus far are limited to a basic finger roll! My more unusual musical influence comes from Acousmatic music, a genre that has been central to my academic research for the past few years. Whilst I wouldn’t relax to it after a hard days work, as an art form, it has provided me with the knowledge and theoretical complexity that has informed my research, my painting practice and my written work.
I have always taken my artistic inspiration from the places I have visited. I try to experience moments with the aim of capturing feelings, sights, sounds and details of the place I inhabit. I always try to retain the memory of the moment in some way, whether that be through the production of sketches, photographs, writing, sharing thoughts with others, or when possible, collecting small objects. I will always see things within my environment that others often take for granted or barely notice. I collect source material from the places that inspire me the most and these sources are varied in type. Past examples of these sources include: the sound of spitting bubbles at a water’s edge captured on a microphone, a photo of a plant woven through some netting suspended by a taut piece of wire (the angles made by the wire against the soft flowing curves of the plant were wonderfully compelling), the remains of a broken and battered rubber glove, a piece of writing made to convey the feeling and huge rush of emotion felt within a vast open space, and countless sketches, drawings and marks made both within the moment and afterwards. I collect sketchbooks full of such source information and use these inspirations as well as the photos, writings and objects to influence my artwork within my studio space.
Drawing and Painting
Drawing and painting have always been a passion of mine, and I was renowned for my love of art at school. I remember sitting at home at the kitchen table with my first oil painting set, a pastime that seems far removed from the production of my oil paintings created on huge hanging canvasses. The materials are the same but the experience is quite different! I always carried a sketchbook with me during my holidays and even now, some of my favourite sketches happen over a cappuccino outside a beautiful pub or in a secluded garden with a glass of chilled white wine! The sketches are often of such tiny details that no one else could possibly know where the inspiration came from and at other times, the source may be completely recogniseable. My most recurring motif is a wooden table number from a favourite café. It is battered through many years’ use but is, in a way, entirely beautiful.
I am currently writing a children’s story that has been developing in my mind for several years. The project has always been put aside due to my concentration on my studies, research and academic qualifications. I have recently been able to spend some time working on my own projects which along with my writing, have included working on new paintings and organising my website. I have started to put pen to paper, and the results have proven to be rather charming and loved by those who have had a sneak peek! I intend to continue the writing as well as work on the illustrations.
Champagne and Eating Out
I love a relaxing evening out in a restaurant with good company, a nice fish dish and a glass or two. As for the champagne, no further explanation needed!