After 30 years in business, I decided to make a complete change of direction, rekindling my interest in art which had been dormant since school days. I started with evening classes at a local school, first in painting and then in sculpture. It was sculpture that really got me fired up, and I was keen to learn about stone carving.
I attended sculpture classes at the Art Academy in London during 2003 and 2004, mainly working with clay and life models. While I was there I was also introduced to stone carving. I attended a number of other stone carving classes, which included working with Zimbabwean sculptors.
In 2004 I was lucky enough to work part time for Emily Young, one of the leading stone carvers, preparing pieces for her St Pancras Crypt exhibition. Emily had a big influence on my work, particularly the stone heads and torsos.
In the summer of 2004, during a stone carving course in the disused Tout quarry on Portland island, a geologist explained how the limestone we were working on was formed (in a warm shallow sea when this land was near the equator), and showed us a fossilised tree in the quarry face. Since then I have been fascinated by the history of our planet, the evolution of life, and the order of nature. My more recent work continues to develop with these interests.
I usually select and procure the stone directly from a number of quarries, my favourite being the St Aldhelm quarry in Dorset. This is where I get the stone that I have used most - Purbeck 'marble' (see note below). A lot of my work is carved from offcuts, making use of stone that would otherwise be scrapped. The stone that I start with gives me the boundaries, or constraints, that can fuel the creative process, particularly if it is not a uniform block of stone. My most satisfying work comes when the ideas and direction gradually take shape as I work, responding to the properties of the stone.
I live in Windsor and have a workshop in nearby Winkfield which I share with two other sculptors, David Middleton and Elizabeth Herkstroter. As well as making it a more sociable and enjoyable process, their feedback and support has been invaluable.
I am a member of the Surrey Sculpture Society, and have exhibited with them on various occasions. I have also been exhibiting with Windsor Fringe for a number of years. I have completed a number of commissions for private collections and my first public commission for St Peter’s Hospital near Chertsey – the picture shows me carving this piece in 2010.
Purbeck ‘marble’ - When the Romans discovered this stone in Dorset (c. AD 200), they called it 'marble' because of the high level of shine when polished. It was used for the building of cathedrals and the like for many years, but is now in short supply. It is a limestone full of shells, formed in a warm fresh water lagoon some 140 million years ago, mainly from millions of fresh water snails (oviparous shells) - hence the wonderful colours