Natured and nurtured amid the tranquil surroundings of rural Norfolk on the Eastern edge of England, an affinity with the natural world is perhaps inevitable for me. Much of my childhood was spent out of doors cycling, walking and climbing trees. I was a contented and quietly creative child who loved reading and painting scenic backdrops to arrange my toys against. I was an intense observer and could contemplate a simple object for hours gaining immense satisfaction out of drawing it as realistically as possible.
My childhood inclinations towards being active and creative persisted into adulthood so driven by naïve optimism and a desire to express I achieved a Diploma in Performing Arts and then a BA Hons Degree in Contemporary Dance and Fine Art.
A career as a dancer ensued which led me to discover the wonderful world of Aerial Circus Arts. I trained in a variety of circus disciplines and went on to perform at the 02 Arena as an Aerialist in the Millennium Dome Show. Within this show I bungeed, abseiled, wire-danced, trapezed, spun in airborne wheels and stilt walked on a thrice daily basis. This was even more fun than climbing trees! Beyond my year in the Dome Show I continued to perform wire dance work and aerial hoop routines at Arts and music events. I also spent several years as a 'Wine Angel' which involved being harnessed to moving cables within a thirty foot transparent tower performing aerial contortion displays. As a dancer and acrobat I became very observant of the human figure in motion and of the way different movements influence the way we feel, invaluable foundations for the painting of expressive human forms (click to view image).
During several of my summers I travelled around Britain and Europe performing at Airshows with Aerosuperbatics Wing-walking Display Team. As a Wingwalker it was my role to perform arabesques and handstands as gracefully as possible against forces of up to 4G on and around the wings and fuselage of a 1940's biplane as it hurtled through a series of high speed aerobatic manoeuvres, loops and synchronised fly-passes. It was an exhilarating way to view and experience the world which undoubtedly contributes to the way I so often depict figures floating or flying through space in my paintings.
I gain an exquisite sense of euphoria from movement, high places and being inverted, I love the shifting perspectives and dimensional distortion they offer. It is a sense of exaltation paralleled to that which I feel when truly 'tuned into' the natural environment, a sensation of deep connection that too has the power to alter my viewpoint of reality. This sensation of euphoria is something that inspires so many of my paintings and is also something that I attempt to capture within them.
Drawing and painting have always been an intrinsic part of my being and an essential channel of joy to me so throughout my performing career I took on commissions between shows and during spells of travel or re-locations overseas. I lived in Greece where I painted murals for local businesses and scenes of life around me, I absorbed the Greek culture by living in a small hilltop village away from tourism, exploring the islands and studying the ancient cities and their ruins. The influences of classical Greek Art, myth and philosophy still sometimes help to mould my ideas . From Southern and Central America to the Far East and Africa my travels have been of enormous inspiration to me revealing a wealth of beliefs, art forms and natural wonders to draw upon.
Experiences in Kenya and South Africa triggered a significant phase of my creative journey. The wildlife, the scenery, the rawness of life...something about it all resonated deep within my soul. As an artist and conservation enthusiast I was welcomed into animal enclosures within vast reserves of natural habitat. Compelled to capture some part of the splendour and fragility of this wilderness and its animals I spent the next few years producing and exhibiting collections of detailed wildlife drawings using the hundreds of photos I had taken there as reference.
The wildlife drawing greatly honed my skills of observation and draughtsmanship, I enjoyed the photo-realistic effects I was achieving but eventually felt the need to render something more than reality as it appeared before me. I yearned to express how experiences actually made me FEEL and to truly explore the 'nature of reality'.
It was another cultural experience which aided my transition towards a new artistic style. I chose to live in the Dominican Republic embedded in the heart of a Caribbean culture and landscape supremely more expressive and vibrant than that of my homeland. Since returning to England I have been moving away from the highly realistic rendering of my earlier largely monochromatic work towards more evanescent visions of colour, metaphor and imagination.