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B I O G R A P H Y
A short historical biography:
I was born in (Great) Driffield, a then, small rural market town in East Yorkshire, my being conceived closely after the end of the Second World War.
I remember being impressed, perhaps at the age of 5 or 6, by my elder brother's copying of comic strip characters and aircraft, and drawing his own cartoons. I soon became obsessed by drawing, painting and making things. I was also fascinated by aircraft, and copied, with the appropriate grade of pencil, photographic images for other fans of aircraft, one aircraft being the Jet Provost. (Believe it or not, that was comissioned by a girl). Then there was the P1 Electric Lightning, a model of which I also made from Balsa wood. At the same time there were Aifix Kits. I was also making Abstract plaques by casting Plaster of Paris in plasticine moulds and painting them, and using 'Scraper-board'. Who remembers that?
Winning various prizes for painting in local Art Competitions, gave me much encouragement and confidence, though I wasn't quite sure about receiving comissions for 'Painting by Numbers', but the customers were happy. Though I was perhaps stronger academically in Science subjects, my main interest was Art. All 'free periods' at Grammar School were spent in the Art Room. The Art master, Jock Donnelly gave me a free run there, though he was rarely there for the full extent of a lesson. I suspected he retired to the masters' common room to knock back a few Scotches, or that was what the smell of his breath suggested, on the odd occasion he returned before the end of a lesson.
At this time, once I had a room of my own, after my brother's moving out to go to university, all my spare time was spent creating something and listening to music. Prior to that, I had shared this four-bedroomed house, (formerly a small farm house, I believe, though in a small town), with my mother, father, brother, an uncle, an aunt and a grandmother.
I remember experimenting with 'abstract painting' at this time, often painting mood paintings, relating to the music I was listening to. I distinctly remember listening to Jimmy Reed's 'Trouble in mind', and painting a picture of my two-dimensional pictorial interpretation. There were a few more. I was very much into 'Blues and R&B' music at this time. I must have been quite self-confident at this time, as I persuaded the local library to show a few of my paintings. I recall these as being abstract, and somewhat in the style of Jackson Pollock, or experimentation with paint, though I don't think I was familiar with Pollock's work at this stage.
Whilst at Bridlington Grammar School, following the taking of 'A' levels, when it came to my applying to Art Colleges, to further my interest in, and study Art further, the Headmaster refused, on two occasions, to honour my application, on the grounds of the length of my hair.
This was rather odd, as the Headmaster had, around this time, been photographed by the Local Press, with me receiving an award for designing the cover of a leaflet for the'East Riding Road Safety Commitee'. A photograph of this award presentation was published in various local papers.
At this time, I was designing posters for school events, such as the school 'Folk Club'. I still, somewhere, have the lino-cut for this.
Missing this chance to apply to an Art College gave me the opportunity to take another 'A' level, and spend much of the time in the Art Room, or local semi-pastoral surroundings, painting. It was a school where we had to attend half a day Wednesday, and half a day Saturday. My Saturday's were a full morning of Art lessons, so on many occasion in the summertime, a few of us would cycle off into the countryside to landscape paint.
Many of us had to travel 12 or 15 miles to school each day, by bus, so had to borrow other local pupils' bikes for this excursion to the countryside. All through this period, at 6.30 each morning, I had to do a paper-round or two, and catch the school bus at 8.30, and then in the evening do another paper-round or sometimes two, six days a week. Does anyone remember the winters in the North East of England at this time? During the good old 60's British Summertime, a few of us would cycle the 12 miles to school and back, a few days before the end of term. Good fun!
Having said that, I still have some water-colours from this era, I painted en plein-air in late Autumn or early Winter, when temperatures were close to freezing.
It was around this time that, somehow, my father had funds to buy his first car. It was an apple green 'Hillman Imp'. It was his pride and joy, adding chrome strips and painting the sides of the tyres white. I found all this a bit embarassing, but this vehicle made the family (just now the three of us, my brother being at university), more mobile, and also allowed me, in partly a selfish way, to expand my interests, which were aircraft and painting. We were able to visit not so local air-shows, and aerodromes to spot aircraft, but also travel to the North York Moors, (Remember 'Heartbeat' and Goathland?), where on many occasion I would be left to paint watercolours, whilst my parents sat in the car to eat a packed lunch, or chose to drive on and visit other places, to return two or three hours later.
Post war years were a bit bleak. I have many vivid memories. Anyway.......
A year later, being allowed to apply to an Art College, I was accepted by Manchester College of Art for a year's Pre-Diploma Course in Art and Design. Oddly enough, my hair grew longer, but it was the mid-sixties!!
This one year course gave me the opportunity to work with various media and processes such as etching and screen printing, the facilities for which, school did not have.
Despite most of my work up to this date had been two-dimensional, apart from sculpting heads out of clay, or carving from tree trunks, this year I produced a sculpture or three-dimensional piece of work which was chosen to be shown in a 'group show' at the Conduit Gallery in London, and a photograph of the piece was published in 'Art International'.
I have good memories of going to The Halle Orchestra concerts and the American Folk Blues Festival at the Free Trade Hall, whilst at Manchester, but, never made it to the 'Twisted Wheel'.
Being successful in the Pre-Diploma Course, I was then accepted by Birmingham College of Art to spend three years working towards achieving a Dip.AD.
These were very exciting and enjoyable times, seeing Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Soft Machine, in their early days. Then there was Family, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Dave Brubeck, Otis Rush, Howlin Wolf, John Lee Hooker etc.etc. There were the 'Open-air Festivals' such as Bath, where Floyd, Zep, Donovan, Hot Tuna, It's a Beautiful Day etc. performed.
This was relaxation time, but creating work was still a priority, and at some times very stressful, but these three years allowed me to develop more as an artist. (?)
During these years I had two pieces of work chosen to show at the annual 'Northern Young Contemporaries' exhibition.
I attained a Diploma in Art and Design at Birmingham, and was accepted by Chelsea School of Art, to have the opportunity to qualify for a Post Graduate/Higher Dip. AD.
This one year course was, again, interesting and enjoyable, partying with the likes of John Hoyland, Mick Moon, and seeing Gilbert and George in their early days.'Kings Road', Chelsea was buzzing.
John Hoyland acquired a studio in Primrose Hill, and myself and another collegue at Chelsea painted it out. Many a tale hangs around all these times.
I was awarded a Post Graduate at Chelsea School of Art, and one of the pieces in my final show was bought by a visitor. This same work was also shown at the 'Oxford Museum of Modern Art Exhibition' the same year. Another piece of work in the final show was chosen to be stored in the school's archives.
After leaving the college environment, I continued to paint, first having a studio off Ladbrooke Grove. Here, I knocked down walls on the first floor of an abandoned property, to form a good sized L-shaped painting area. At this time, I was living in a bed-sit in Battersea, and during the day working for a Decorating Company based in the City, carrying out work all over London, including painting out the jewellery gallery and the interior of one of the domes of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Having a small room to sleep in at the studio at Ladbrooke Grove, allowed me to paint in the evenings and at weekends, and on odd nights sleep at the bed-sit. All travelling at this time was by public transport.
A piece of work I produced, a 'working drawing', at this studio, was purchased by the same person who had bought the piece in my final show at Chelsea.
Plans to redevelope the site of this studio, meant that I had to move and 'relocate'!?!? Studio space was sparse around London. The only opportunity I had, was to move into a Warehouse in Wapping, overlooking the Thames, whilst still living in Battersea. After a while, though armed with a sleeping bag, having no heating in a massive warehouse, and the problems of transport, I had to surrender to moving out of Wapping. This period hadn't been very productive.
I was presented with the problem of storing all my work, portfolios, paintings, practically all my recent years' work. A college friend was at the time living in a flat above an empty, derelict basement. Though this space wasn't secure, it became the home for all my work, until I learned at very short notice that the basement was being cleared for renovation. I arrived too late to discover that all my work, 99% of that shown on my Archive Work web page, had been disposed of by a skip. I rushed to the skip company's yard but there was no sign of my work.
This was a bit of a 'blow', and after a while, still without a space to paint in, I invested in a second-hand SLR Nikormat camera, and renewed my interest in photography, as a way of satisfying my ceative needs.
I moved from my bedsit in Battersea, into a ground floor flat near Kingston-upon-Thames, and after working in the building trade for several years, decided to go self-employed. Soon afterwards the opportunity arose to buy the whole property where I rented the flat. Despite allocating one room for a studio, in the plan of converting this property into one house, it didn't materialise, despite running new water supplies etc. Building work became a 14 hour day job.
Being self-employed had it's perks, meeting and working for such people as Richard Branson, Rick Wright (of Pink Floyd), Henry Naylor of 'Spitting Image' script-writing fame. Working for clients directly or through designers, I had the pleasure on many occasion to hang works by Monet, Picasso, James Rosenquist, Robin Denny, Paul Jenkins, Keith Vaughan, and many more.
Still being self-employed, I am not in the position, unfortunately, to paint full time, so new paintings are slow in coming.
Though I have rented a studio in Kingston for a few years, for financial reasons, I have had to terminate this.