Your family’s travels to such a wide array of locations must have been an exciting way to spend your formative years. Can you tell me the influence this has had on you personally and how it translates to your work?
I had by, all accounts an interesting childhood. It was shaped by my Father’s work as a chaplain in the British Army that entailed a lot of travel to the far flung corners of the then rapidly diminishing British Empire. We often lived on the edge of political conflicts, but I spent my time, for the most part exploring and wondering at the world around me. In Northern Ireland, we could hear the bombs going off, but I was more occupied as a ten year old, trying to find four leaf clovers on our lawn overlooking the Belfast Loch and daydreaming about the boats sailing by.
In Guyana, or British Guyana as it was then known in 1966, our parents sheltered my siblings and I from the troubles of the populace. Blissfully unaware of anything that was going on politically, we immersed ourselves in the joys of the tropical world that surrounded us. Amassing a large and colorful collection of bugs, we raised baby parrots, and played with our dogs. When we travelled deep into the interior one summer to explore the Kaieteur Falls, we thought the army truck full of soldiers who accompanied us were coming along for a fun vacation, never realizing they were there for our protection.
When we moved to Hong Kong in the early seventies we lived out in the New Territories surrounded by mountain peaks that resembled the landscapes on Chinese scrolls. I was a little older by the time we moved to the Far East and was beginning, not just to observe the world around me, but to describe it. After watching a calligraphy demonstration at a local temple one day I was moved to start experimenting on my own. That was over forty years ago and I am still learning today.
With a notable education seeking your BA from Leeds Polytechnic in Fine Art, can you tell me some of your biggest learning experiences during your undergraduate degree?
Leeds in the late seventies was one of the top schools for art in the UK with a reputation for avant grade teaching methods and politically engaged staff. The academic theory of the day was to give students a working space and free art materials, then basically leave them to it for three years. It didn’t work for everyone of course but I was in my element there. Although the school was known for performance art and conceptual work, I used my time to study the masters and actually learn how to paint like them. I would take my easel down to Leeds City Art Gallery and spend my days making detailed copies of the collection, especially the works of Henri Fantin-Latour, a French floral artist who was a contemporary of the impressionists, though not one of their school. I have been painting cut flowers in vases inspired by those early days, throughout my career.
Since your education lies in Fine Art, can I assume art has always been your pursuit? Or have there been other interests along the way?
Yes, art has always been my pursuit, in that I started selling my paintings in High School and have continued to support myself and my family with the proceeds ever since. However, art is ultimately about connecting us to the deeper realities of life. Every artist, whether they know it or not is in some way a preacher. We show people doors to other worlds and invite them to step through.
Of course, I am interested in all sorts of other things. I love to hike, ride my bike and take photos of wildlife, I also like to hang out with loved ones and serial binge Netflix. I love to go to church and worship God, I like to pray and wonder at the world. I also love business and have enjoyed building international publishing, software and distribution entities to promote my work worldwide as well as Meuse Gallery.
I see you’ve been interested in the work of other exceptional artists, not least of whom is Rembrandt. Do you think the work of these artists still influences your work today?
Of course, how could it not? Art history is surely the tree of which I am just a little twig on the periphery. I fell in love with Rembrandt because of his etchings. Thanks to etching I was able to transform my early art studio into a business selling prints to galleries all over the Uk and then here in the US. Although my etching style ended up being somewhat revolutionary and full of color, nevertheless I modelled my early efforts on the tight black and white line work of the Dutch Master, Who’s chiaroscuro still shows up in my black background works today.
Georgia O’Keefe was an artist who had a powerful impact on me twenty years or so ago and inspired many of my large florals from that era. There have been so many, most of whom few people have ever heard of, but I love them all and am grateful for their genius.
Are there any other artists who have more recently influenced your style?
When you are younger you are influenced by trying to emulate the style of another because you have not yet found your own style, but as you grow and your own style or styles emerge, your interest in other artist’s changes. More recently I have been influenced again by Asian art and as you can see, my recent works have a strong Asian influence.