Read about my artistic journey
It’s interesting looking back at how you got to where you have got to. I was always a creative person and have enjoyed making things, arranging things I have found, like stones, fascinating pieces of wood, leaves and pine cones. I have always loved the landscape around Higham and written poetry, taken photos, and enjoyed just spending time outdoors. I have looked at other artists and been interested in how they work. Plus I have always enjoyed making my garden a beautiful and ever-changing place, a feast for my eyes.
As a mature student I really enjoyed a year at University of the Creative Arts in Rochester and another year at UCA Maidstone in 2007 / 08, learning and experimenting with different media. I leapt at the chance to play and discover in an ‘art’ kind of way, and I discovered a lot.
Looking at other artists was a big part of it.
John Piper was one I was recommended to look at. I remember browsing through a book of his work and something inside me clicked. It is the way his collages look so simple and effective – a newspaper path, torn paper as sky. They really intrigued me. My imagination was fired and I was off.
In my photographs of the marsh and my poems I always tried to evoke an atmosphere. I want you to smell the cold; feel the mist; see the glare of light on water; hear the silence.
So it was important that this new venture had those qualities too. When a piece of work is near to finishing I step back to the other side of the room, turn the lights down and squint. I know when it’s worked. The stacks in particular never stop fascinating me. These stacks are old huge wooden piles from the base of a rotting pier or jetty, and you find them sticking out at crazy angles from the mud all over the Thames and Medway. When I feel I need a bit of a tonic, working with the stacks does it for me.
I didn’t start making art til my 40s, but I had decades of looking, feeling, being active, and loving the landscape before that. I also know that the way I collaging landscapes has also been influenced by doing physical things in nature like walking, kayaking and climbing, and conservation work.
I’ve kayaked for years on the Thames and Medway. In kayaking, I am inches above sea level, hovering over the silty shallows or depths, feeling the enormity of the sky from on top the waves. Walking gives me another experience. I can linger over a wild flower, or a piece of flotsam, or a wading bird preening itself in the distance. I can settle in quietly to observe the scene, sketching, or framing photographs through my viewfinder. With conservation groups, I take care of local woodland, marsh and coast. It involves intimate observation, patience, and tenderness for wildlife and nature. My recent passion of climbing is literally an eyeopener for me as an artist. As I go up higher and higher, I see the same landscape but from different perspectives, and it’s mindblowing. Plus the fantastic photography in climbing magazines gives me the raw material for collaging. All this feeds my art. I have a passion for this work. I can’t help feeling it’s what I was made to do. I love where I live and I invite you to love it too. Better still, love where you live.