My art is a confection of fantasy and reality, my compositions peopled with characters drawn from my observation of the everyday and the mundane, but coloured by my love of stories and fairytales. Amongst these characters you may find the attractive but suspiciously masked guests at ‘The Guilty Party’, enjoying an aperitif while they size up their fellow revellers. Then there are the generously proportioned and mellowing flower fairies, at the comfortingly mature ‘seed-pod’ stage in their lives. Borrowed from Mythology, Medusa is here, too: a femme fatale, perhaps, but also an ordinary girl given to bad hair days. In all these images, there is an element of fantasy, but also many references to everyday situations, and it is in this balance that I hope both to surprise and amuse you.
I studied jewellery design at Glasgow School of Art from 1989 to 1992, then at the Victoria and Albert museum I completed a masters Degree in Metalwork conservation from 1992 to 1995. Following this, I worked first as a Metals Conservator at the V&A, cleaning and conserving some of the historic objects there, then as a model maker and designer making master-patterns for jewellery out of carved wax, and then as a goldsmith, making jewellery out of platinum and gold.
This training and career has no-doubt strengthened my love of detail and meticulous work, as well as demanding a certain technical facility for drawing and fostering a certain interest in materials science and the longevity (or otherwise) of artists materials and techniques. However, as a painter I am largely self-taught: in about 1999 I took up painting as first a pastime, a passion and finally a full-time career, and being at this point without a teacher I had to discover for myself what could be done with the media of my choice.
I now work and live in Somerset and have put on several solo exhibitions in Somerset, Suffolk, London and Nottingham, as well as taking part in several group exhibitions and local art societies.
My paintings are completed in Gouache – a water-based painting medium similar to watercolour. Perhaps because I am self-taught, my treatment of gouache does not seem to me to be typical of the use of this medium, which I often see used rather heavily on the paper. Instead, I have developed various techniques for building up layers of paint, first with underpainting to create depth, then overlaying it with colour, and at certain points washing a lot of the paint off again in a way that leaves a translucent multi-layered stain on the surface of the paper that glows with more brilliance than any amount of thick paint would. I chose my pigments carefully for this, using only those which will both strongly stain the paper and which are most resistant to fading.
Having never quite left my jeweller’s roots behind, I occasionally add precious metal leaf to my paintings and drawings. This has been particularly effective when used with the monochrome of pencil drawings, but I am starting to add it to the paintings as well.
And last, but not least, I’ve also taken to making etching prints. This is a medium to which I find my rather illustrative style is very well suited, and it has the great advantage that I can offer original works of art at a fraction of the cost of that of my paintings, as well as using a refreshingly different range of techniques to my painted work. It also appeals to my technical mind, happy to be once more working with chemicals and pieces of metal, if only as a part of the whole process.