I was born in 1933 in my grandparents’ home, Cadborough Farm, in Rye, East Sussex, which was later completely destroyed in 1944, by a V-1 ‘doodlebug’.
Because the south coast was so vulnerable to enemy attack during WWII, I was sent away first to Wales and then to school at Queenswood in Hertfordshire at the age of nine. There, I had the good fortune to be taught art by Miss Hilda Pilgrim whose influence has inspired me for life. The scarcity of paper and art materials at the time was not enough to stop Miss Pilgrim from gathering whatever materials she could find from around the school to keep our creativity alive, and was always one to encourage us to express our artistic freedom despite the unfavourable circumstances.
Later, I attended the Hastings Art School for four years and studied for the National Art Diploma course in painting. Vincent Lines was the Principal at the time, who has also had a tremendous influence on my work. Lines upheld encouragement rather than criticism as the key to fostering artistic talent, and was well-attuned to pinpointing the artistic merits in all of his students. He believed in the importance of drawing as the essential basis for all other art.
Later on, I taught art to children at Worth School, Sussex and at St.Hugh’s, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. I find that teaching opens up a whole new dimension to one’s own work, as it allows you to appreciate the simplicity of approach from your pupils, while being great fun at the same time. At Worth, I would sometimes secretly swap roles with the riding mistress, while the monks were none the wiser. Although I was lucky to be a somewhat competent rider myself, the riding mistress was only able to draw bull terriers, so I imagine the boys ended up teaching her more than she taught them.
During the 1960s I lived in San Francisco (who could not be so overwhelmed by the surroundings there?), while my true artistic inspiration of landscapes developed during the following thirty-five years which I spent in Galloway, southwest Scotland, surrounded by wintry trees, boats on beaches and tender light on the hills and sea, all of which became essential subjects to me. While there I became much inspired by the teaching and work of Archie Sutter Watt.