Until I was 6 years old I lived near Boston in Lincolnshire. My father was an eminent entomologist and so (much to my mothers angst) many hours were spent with dad and older sister poking about on The Wash, an area of boggy marshland with a very quick tide, dykes and endless skies. My father pointed out flora and fauna and I was able to name the most unusual of creatures from a very early age.
This enigmatic landscape was such an early inspiration, a special place to allow the mind to wander and dream and has left me with an enduring love of the sea and sky.
My mother worked too but in her spare time she was very creative and as well as dress making she made beautiful ceramics. By the time I was born in 1961, she had already been making pots for many years.
In 1975 after a few years in Cambridge, my family moved again to Kent, The Garden of England. Wye is a village some 12 miles from Canterbury and within the Conservation area of Kent. Here in my teens I continued my love of walking and began to identify with poetry, music and art.
In this wonderful part of Kent I made lasting friendships and discovered some really great music and art. Now, while I am working on stained glass in my Surrey Hills studio, I listen to some old favourites like John Martyn, Nick Drake and James Taylor with a peppering of the new (and not so new!) Zero 7, Faithless and Gregory Porter. I love a bit of disco and dance music too. If I am need of some divine intervention and am a bit stuck with a particular design, then a good blast of Spem In Alium by Thomas Tallis jolts my muse back into action.
In 1979 I left home and moved to Chatham, Medway, Kent to attend the art college there. This foundation course in art was supposed to narrow down my field of interest with a view to attending a further institution for a three year degree course. Unfortunately this did not happen! I was still sure I had not found my niche within the arts. A long search, through books and leaflets, (no Google to help in 1980) revealed a little known and very new course at Chelsea School of Art, London. This three year course was called Mural Design and Public Art and nearly every term allowed me to explore new mediums. It was here where I made my first stained glass panels.
On leaving Chelsea I was very interested at first, to pursue a career working in set and stage design and was supremely lucky to be given the first job I applied for. Tom McPhillips is a world-renowned stage designer and my two years working with him in 1983-85 were such a brilliant experience.
1984 is along time ago but my time with Tom is still in sharp focus in my mind. He was such an inspirational man to work for. He is a perfectionist and so very talented. He taught me techniques and how to work effectively to a deadline. Although I did leave his employ after only 2 years I was, at the time, his longest serving assistant! We worked on backdrops and stages for bands such as Culture Club and Judas Priest. Tom moved to Lititz, PA in the late ‘80’s to found Atomic Design , I did go with him to work on one project but I wasn’t ready for such a change of scenery. Not long after this I gained employment at Goddard and Gibbs stained glass studios. Meaning to stay for 6 months then go travelling, I stayed for nearly 15 years!