This piece was originally written for the Warbling Collective website in 2019.
What was your childhood like and who/what were your early art influences?
I grew up in a small town called Woodbridge, in Suffolk. It's a beautiful part of the country but life felt a bit limited there as a teenager so I was keen to get away. I went to Manchester for university but work brought me to London. My Dad always guided us down the acedemic route so I didn't properly study Art until A-Level, once I'd demonstrated my ineptitude at Economics, which didn't take long. I spent most of my time down the Art block, to the detriment of my other subjects. I absolutely loved it and did really well so went on to do an Art & Design foundation course at Suffolk College.
I read a lot of art history during my A-Levels. I liked how Cubism playfully distorted and corrupted the way we look at things. I loved the meditative experience of Abstract Expressionism. A large portion of a school field trip to the Tate would be spent gazing in the Rothko room. I can still see both of these influences in my work today.
'Found Square 01', 2020
What type of work do you make and what mediums do you use?
I make abstract collages using paper or card. I just prefer the chop and change nature of collage. I really like working with wood too; I'm on the lookout for discarded boxes or furniture at the moment. I don't exclusively use discarded materials but they often lead my ideas.
Could you please describe some themes which run through your work?
I enjoy tipping the balance between nature and the man-made; how the two forces interact. My interest was sparked by the visual appeal of decaying urban walls naturally evolving as different artists, weather and pollution took their toll. So, decay and destruction was originally high on my agenda but, over the last couple of years, I’ve become more focussed on the coincidental, in particular; inherited, random shapes which I process with a machine-like automatism. Nature’s hand in the outcome is inherently debatable but, at the very least, it’s a possibility. And, if nature is alive in these compositions then where has it come from? Does it symbolise some greater meaning or value? I’m not religious and I’ve never thought of myself as spiritual but maybe, in these troubling times, I am beginning to take comfort in seeking a deeper connection with the world.
'Untitled (Black)', 2019, Collector's house
'Found Shapes of the Unknowable (Yellow)', 2019
Do you have a job which sustains your art practice, what is it how does it affect your art?
I never considered art as a career. I went to a very academic school but even my foundation course seemed to lack any precedent for aspiring to a life as a fine artist. I don’t know anyone who went on to do a fine art degree. Everyone did graphic design, printing, textiles or moving image, which is what I got into. I’ve built up a reasonably successful career as a freelance motion graphics designer which I’ve really enjoyed at times but it doesn’t scratch my creative itches like it used to 5/10 years ago. So, I’ve gradually turned back to art for the sake of my sanity really.
My design career has given me a good eye and the ability to articulate what’s good and bad about a composition. It’s made me very critical of video art which doesn’t always have great production values. I think it’s highly likely I’ll experiment with motion graphics in my work at some point but, at the moment, it’s a joy to get away from the computer.
'Found Shapes of the Unknowable' exhibition. Balham, 2019
How has your work developed and changed over the past few years?
I know it’s a bit of a turn-off in the art world but street art’s inspiration and accessibility kept me drawing over the years. I drew a character, under the name of Mooschool, which I’d stick up all round London with no aspirations beyond having fun but there came a point where I felt I’d developed something unique and worthy of greater ambition. My work was dominated by these character logos which actually gave me confidence when I was starting out as I believed it was good to be recognisable. The characters were already disappearing and becoming more abstract when I intercepted a bundle of quality paper offcuts from a fellow collage artist, Jo Hummel, who was about to bin them. Working out how to incorporate that material into my process made me realise that drawing the character had become a bit of a chore. Responding to found materials, chopping up and rebuilding, that was the fun bit. That’s definitely when my work shifted from destruction to reinvention. It was a very liberating moment, leaving that character behind. It opened me up to many possibilities. I’m more confident in myself as an artist now and although I want to progress thoughtfully, I don’t think my work has to look a certain way anymore.
'Found Shapes of the Unknowable (White 2)', 2019
Can you tell us about your workspace/studio and the local creative community?
I moved house last year so I’ve upgraded from the kitchen table to my own studio room which has made a huge difference. I can work bigger plus I don’t need to clear everything away each night! Having said that, I often infiltrate the other rooms in the house. I’ve got a canvas on the floor of my son’s room at the moment, which he seems to accept surprisingly well when he gets home from school.
Do you have any rituals or a routine when it comes to creating your work?
Not really but I do try to set out a clear plan of what I want to achieve in a day otherwise I’m so conscious of time ticking away. l’ll jump from job to job but achieve little. I’m always reminded of an AA Milne poem called ‘The Old Sailor’, which I used to read to my kids. A sailor is shipwrecked and sets about practical jobs but can never decide what to do first:
“And so in the end he did nothing at all,
But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl. And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved – He did nothing but bask until he was saved!”
'Restore (Green & Blue Violet)', 2018
What are you up to when you’re not working or making art?
I like writing. It’s painting with words, basically. I’m much more eloquent on the page than in person! I’ve started writing articles; responses to exhibitions or interviews with artists which I find so beneficial to my own practice.
I love playing football. I play twice a week with a bunch of dads from my sons’ school. I actually sharpened my writing up posting match reports but they got increasingly creative and weird until I realised I needed to write about something more substantial than a kick-about.