Degree in Fine Art, Slade School, London University


Early Years

In my early years I used to sharpen a stick to make a pen, and made ink from a mushroom, found in the fields/woods where I lived. This was an Ink-cap, which I reduced in a glass jar overnight, and strengthened it with ink powder if too weak or too transparent. For a surface to draw upon I used brown parcel paper which is very strong, available and was suitable for my needs. The subjects I drew were old farm carts, trees, buildings and animals. I found I had a good eye for proportion, and a quick eye for seeing things. This was the basis of being of being able to draw in perspective, and the stick pen created a way of exploring and representing the visual world I lived in with a distinctive feeling and style. This later became more developed and expressive if I used hand-made paper which has a wonderful textured surface which allowed the stick pen to emphasize my distinctive mark-making ‘spidery style’. I used different types of sticks and with use some became soggy at the end, making it into a brush accentuating line with tone. I developed this distinctive drawing style in 1952 when drawing in Ecclesfield village where I was born. At the time when abstraction was being developed artists were looking at new ways to express themselves, they were finding new ways to communicate and develop their perception, resulting in exploring creatively the visual world of marks , signs and symbols thus presenting art with a new emphasis. Developing thinking and exploring imagery encouraged interest in a new visual language of abstraction. I exhibited some of these early abstract drawings in Sheffield Graves Art Galley and won several prizes for my unique originality which had evolved through the ethic of working for pleasure. In the 1950’s Abstraction was a sensitive area for people who could only identify with traditional skills in art. These new concepts, and the new changes in art with its evolution growing a perceptual progress, were a difficult arena to be involved in. Any artist who was seeking sponsorship and grants to study, came up against a prejudice and a lack of perception by the uninitiated Councillors holding the purse. A similar scenario exists today as Councils without expertise and vision lead a blind way. They say ‘they know what they like’ but that is not expertise, and most are not qualified to make valid value judgements. The result of the modern superficiality ‘of anything goes as art’ surprisingly seems to milk money from them somehow.