Born in Zimbabwe, Africa, where I lived until I was four, I grew up on Teesside in the North East of England. Always busy drawing and making things as a child, I was greatly encouraged by my parents especially my dad who was an excellent artist and draftsman himself. He ran an engineering company and used to bring home massive sheets of paper: printed plans which were blank on the back ready to be filled with drawings. In the summer I stayed with my gran by the sea where we made things together, sewing and crochet and rag rugs.
It was a big decision but I don't regret not going to art college. I knew I could always make my own art and have done so through all the ups and downs. Instead of going to art college I had a chance to go to Cambridge where I read geography as one of the first 25 women at Sidney Sussex College. It was a magical time for a girl who had previously not ventured much beyond the moors of North Yorkshire and summers on the Essex coast.
I then spent a few years travelling around the world with my husband's job - he was a coffee trader - and looking after our two small children. We had sojourns in London, Greece, Germany and Kenya. In 1993 I ended up on the Welsh borders in Shropshire as a single mum and began a career in illustration.
Based in Shrewsbury now for many years, I work from my studio in a beautiful old town house overlooking the River Severn which I share with with my partner Nigel, a very creative musician.
about my work
Paintings of birds and animals set in jewel colours with gold leaf tell the story of a paradise garden. Rich in detail and patterning, these pieces illuminate a room. We mostly live in cities where we might long for an enclosed garden in which to find an hour of sunlit peace. Birds inhabit the garden and it is filled with trees and flowers. The garden as paradise: this is my theme. My work has a timeless quality that is rooted in ancient art yet is very contemporary.
My paintings have been selected for exhibition at the Royal Watercolour Society Contemporary Watercolour Competition for the last three years; 2019, 2018 and 2017. In 2017 I was the winner of the Dry Red Press award at this exhibition. My work is currently represented in several UK galleries and I hold regular Open Studio events.
I practised as a professional illustrator for over twenty five years. My illustration portfolio includes illustrating around twenty children's books for Usborne Publishing. Many of these are still in print, notably; The Usborne Picture Atlas, Greek Myths and my first ever book, The Children's Bible which has been hugely successful. I worked as creative consultant for Clare Maddicott Publications and designed greetings card ranges for them for 15 years and continued as an illustrator with them for another ten years. I've licensed illustrations for many products and companies around the world including collections for Goebel Porzellanfabrik, Churchill China, Ulster Weavers and UNICEF.
In the past few years I have felt the need to develop more of my own ideas rather than always be under the direction of an art director. Many hours spent in front of a computer screen making digital artwork becomes less appealing as time goes on. So I have recently returned to my first passion of painting, and am absolutely loving making paintings and working as a fine artist.
I have developed a passion for gold leaf, which can 'illuminate' a painting. Working mainly with watercolour on paper, and sometimes on gesso, I inscribe pattern and a texture drawn into the gold that tells another part of the story. Medieval and Renaissance art, Persian, Indian and Egyptian art - countless hours spent in the National Gallery and the V&A - are a great inspiration! As are birds and gardens as a subject. The freedom and colour of birds can be emblematic of so many human traits and conditions. I'm aiming to create a modern yet timeless fragment. My paintings are rooted in ancient culture but have a contemporary feel. They are a modern expression of something very old.
I have exhibited at Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and at the Business Art Gallery Upstairs at the Royal Academy. I have recently had work in mixed shows at Erwood Station Gallery, The Ledbury Gallery in the Marches and Zillah Bell Gallery in North Yorkshire, For many years I have held open studio events in Cambridge and Shrewsbury.
Alongside this I still make illustrations! My partner Nigel runs a company called Sunny Side Art that celebrates our favourite places. We make art prints, cards and gifts based on my drawings.