I am an artist, academic, and writer – born in Newark, Nottinghamshire, UK in 1970.
As a child I would tell myself stories through drawing and painting and depict the things that interested me visually like cars, people and birds. I also made visual diaries while on holidays. I went to art school aged 18 in the North Nottinghamshire town of Mansfield. Here I started keeping sketchbooks of everyday life – another kind of diary. I went on to study BA(Hons) Illustration at the University of Westminster, Harrow. This was first course with this title in the UK at the time. I discovered printing onto ceramics here and I played with ideas about decoration through applying my drawn images to ceramic objects. This led to an in MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art in London. Here I explored glass and combined my printed drawings with glass sculpture in a series of self-portrait heads.
After this, I undertook a practice based PhD in ceramics and printmaking at the Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England in Bristol. Through this research I helped to develop and refine a patented water-based method of printing onto ceramics. I used this new method in a series of ceramic artworks featuring my sketchbook drawings to create permanent commemorations of the fleeting moments I had drawn. I completed my PhD in 1999 and started an academic career at the turn of the millennium at University of Sunderland in North East England. I am now a Professor and Head of the School of Art and Design at Sunderland and I am known for my writing and work on ceramics, glass and printmaking. I have also continued my interest in capturing life, people and landscapes in drawings and glasswork but in recent years painting has been my focus. My newest work brings together and expands many of themes I have always been interested in. This website is dedicated to this new work.
I paint from sight, memory, imagination and also through the ‘journey’ of painting. By sight, I mean that I’ve seen something that resonates with me and try depict it. Many of my paintings start with colours and marks that link to something I’ve seen. Memory might be a memory of sight but it could also be the memory of an intense experience. Imagination might relate to extending or developing something I’ve seen, read or remembered. For example, the novels of Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) are currently a great source of inspiration. Quite a few of my images have developed through the process or journey of making them. Collage has been part of this as it brings unexpected images and feelings sometimes. I often recycle my paintings and cut them up to create parts of new images. Some painting happen very quickly while others are evolved over a long time.
All of my work is about capturing a moment in time and the symbolism and ambiguity of the everyday fascinates me. The theme of the journey is also important. Taking a journey and being in a new place often inspires pictures. The paintings often depict a journey like walking through a landscape. Recently, the theme of ‘passage’ has been suggested to me as relating to my work. This can be passage as in a journey, passage of time, passage of life, or passage from one phase of life to another. Having said all that – perhaps my paintings actually depict the here and now of an idea because the picture is an amalgam of sight, memory, imagination and process in a given moment, or number of moments, as the painting is made.