Background

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  Pablo Picasso

From a very early age I’ve always wanted to create images and make things. I spent a great deal of time during my early childhood drawing pictures of buildings – later using watercolour paint to tint the drawings.

I have always been inspired by the  landscape near to my home town of Ashbourne (the watercolour of Sturston Lane below was painted when I was in my teens – the oak tree is still in good health).

Living in such a beautiful area of the UK has given me a lot of inspiration for my work. It has a magnetic attraction for me personally, I don’t think there’s any place in the UK (or the world for that matter) that could match the unique character and ambience of the surrounding scenery, especially with the subtle beauty of the Peak District National Park being just five miles up the road.

My home town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, is a very attractive market town with a long history associated mainly with agriculture and is often referred to as the ‘gateway’ to the Peak District National Park. It has a very strong sporting tradition – having its own ancient ‘Royal Shrovetide Football’ game held on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday each year. The two millstone ‘goals’ are three miles apart and are built into the north facing bank of the Henmore Brook – at Sturston for the ‘Up’ards’ side and at Clifton for the ‘Down’ards’ side – with the town itself roughly in the middle where ball play often takes place in the streets. The finely painted ball (handmade with a cork interior and leather exterior) is scored by being tapped against the millstone by an individual team player three times, having been originally ‘turned’ up at the start of play (at 2pm on each day) by either a distinguished (‘retired’) player or a local dignitary. This game, once played in many towns throughout the UK centuries ago, was the ancestor of the modern rugby football game.

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After completing a Foundation Course in Art & Design at  the former Derby College of Higher Education, I spent three wonderfully creative years studying for a degree in graphic design at Norwich School of Art (1981-84). In 1985, with the support of my parents and the MSC Enterprise Allowance Scheme, I started out as a self-employed visual artist and furniture designer/maker. From 1986 to 2006 I worked as a part-time adult education tutor for Derbyshire County Council teaching painting and drawing skills.

I currently live on the edge of Ashbourne with my (supportive) wife, who is a teacher and musician, along with our young daughter. We both enjoy listening to music from all over the world, especially contemporary traditional Irish music by the likes of Sharon Shannon, Lunasa, Dervish, Danu, Altan, Solas, Christy Moore and many other wonderful musicians inc. Van Morrison. We also like to play Irish and British tunes ourselves having jointly started an open trad. music session once a month in a lovely old Ashbourne pub. I still listen to music that dates back to my art school days such as the Cocteau Twins, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Clash amongst others and enjoy listening to contemporary bands like the Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire to name but a few. I always have music on in the background when I’m working, I now find myself listening to more classical music on the radio and 1950’s modern jazz.

We have a nearby organic allotment garden and enjoy walks in the Peak District (with sketch pad or camera) with our young and lively Romanian rescue dog ‘Star Kiara’.

I hope you enjoy viewing my work on this site, any comments you would like to make about it would be very much appreciated.

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