I have been involved with art for my entire life. My early years were somewhat peripatetic, moving house over 20 times before I was 15; this however was not without its benefits, since we lived in some very unusual places, often around artists. From the age of 13 I attended art school in Folkestone on Saturdays, and eventually was there full time for two years for the Pre-Diploma course, which introduced me to all aspects of art practice, life drawing, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking and of course, oil painting.
This was my first ever oil painting at the age of 16. The principal was the formal trompe l’oeil painter Gerald van Norden; at the time I did not realise what a connected artist he was. Also teaching there was John Eveleigh, who also ran the Metropole Art Gallery on the Leas. I later attended Maidstone School of Art which had the benefit of being on the main line to London. Consequently many of the part time staff could make the journey down to teach us. Therefore we were able to be taught life drawing by Christopher Ironside, ( who designed the decimal coinage), and who had Quentin Crisp as his life model. Charles Harrison, who edited an International Art magazine taught Art History. Patrick Procktor , Colin Self, Norman Stevens and Dave Oxtoby taught Painting and once in a while,their friend David Hockney came to work in the print department. At this point, the tenor of the departments was moving from figurative to more abstract work. As a consequence, Tess Jaray and Mark Vaux became visiting tutors. Their influence became very strong, and my work at that juncture was totally abstract.
However, after leaving, I swiftly reverted to figurative work. In part this was the consequence of deciding to train as a teacher in Brighton; teaching practice in Falmer Grammar School encouraged me to return to looking and recording what I could see. While I was in Brighton I volunteered at a boy’s detention centre, which was an eye opener to a grammar school girl. My first teaching post was at Sawston Village College, outside Cambridge. This was a dynamic modern department which served a wide catchment area of far flung villages , where I taught ceramics, and also had the opportunity to work with adults at evening class. In addition, proximity to Cambridge meant that I was able to work and exhibit with Cambridge Printmakers. The first job led to a succession of teaching appointments in outer London and then in Hampshire where I was employed in the sixth form sector for many years, making use of my early teaching in a wide range of disciplines.
Headstone at Trumpington, Granchester.
View through the window, Southsea.
At the age of 40 I decided to make good my academic potential, having left school at 16, so I embarked upon a series of Art History courses, which concluded with studying for an M.A. at Sussex University while teaching full time. This was a wonderful experience , during the course of which I was able to do research in the major London libraries and to interview well known artists, including Leonard Rosoman, whose work has had a great influence on me. I wrote my thesis on Gertrude Hermes, the printmaker, meeting her daughter and interviewing many people connected with her.
After many years of teaching and having had a son, my husband and I had paid off our endowment mortgage, and after years of inflation, came away with a profit. I applied for a year’s leave of absence, we rented out our house, bought a round the world air ticket, and went travelling for nine months, first spending six months in India, and then on to Hong Kong and China, Australia, the USA and Mexico. I kept detailed sketchbooks of our travels and took many photographs. On our return to the U.K. , these would become the basis for many paintings.
Temple of 10,00 Buddhas
Four Hindu Gods
Shrine at Changspa
For many years I was a member of Catalyst: Women art and Science, a group loosely based in Portsmouth, which held annual exhibitions on a theme based around a scientific concept, which was the result of a talk given by a scientist. This was a stimulating way to approach work, and frequently produced results which took each individual away from their natural ways of working and their comfort zone.
Greek Vase and Medicine
After 36 years of full time teaching I retired, and thought that this would be the end. However, a a friend suggested that I apply to be an artist /educator at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, and I have been lucky enough to be employed as a freelance there until the present day. This has given me the chance to meet interesting people, to get close up experience of works of art and to continue to teach . I also worked at The Lightbox in Woking, specifically on two long term projects with people who had suffered some sort of head trauma. Once again, this was a wonderful experience and the two shows which resulted showed the restorative nature of making art.
Of late I have been painting independently. My work tends to fall into two categories. I am a very keen gardener, and much of my work has been garden based.
Sarah Raven’s nasturtiums
Some things make you ill, some things make you better
I also really like the Buddhist concept of objects fading away into nature . This stemmed from seeing prayer flags in the foothills of the Himalayas, which flap away until disintegration. In the area where I live there has been a tendency for farmers and others to abandon vehicles at the end of their working life. I have spent many years documenting these, and also recording vehicles which have been burnt out. The visual effect on metal of extreme heat produces wonderful colours.
Greta Berlin’s caravan
Mr Taylor’s Robin Reliant
Fishbourne Roman Palace, near Chichester has a building which archives the collection which comes from excavations at the site, but also from sites throughout Sussex. The director of this facility gave me the opportunity to go and paint from selected artefacts; this was a marvellous experience . Handling objects which had been concealed for over a thousand years was a real privilege and the links to the past and past generations made the wonder even more palpable.
Bronze Roman brooches
King Tincommius coin
One of the aspects of this look into the past is that all of the items, particularly those which were catalogued in the 20th century, come with handwritten descriptions of where they were found and identification numbers, so I included all of these aspects of the past along with the objects themselves.
I have been fortunate enough to have discovered 2d3dSouth and I have been involved over the past years with many of their shows . One of the shows in 2014 was held at The Royal Greenjackets Museum, Winchester, and was entitled “Waiting in the wings of War”. In this exhibition the members of the group responded visually to the idea of the lead up to World War 1. This was part of a city wide enterprise; the show was a great success and moved to the Museum in Havant and also to the Hampshire records office.
Laser cut paper images based on a dress in the Hampshire Museums Collection for a girl awaiting marriage.
I have exhibited with the group at Winchester University and the Discovery Centre, Winchester , Highcliffe Castle, The Red House in Christchurch, The Kevis Gallery, Petworth, The Visitors Gallery, The Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey and many other venues.
My personal favourites in terms of painting include George Shaw and his dispassionate approach to subject matter, and Paula Rego for the wide ranging disparity of her work, but also the fact that she can draw and record what she sees directly and powerfully. I also like Robert McBryde for his colour use, Edward Burra for content and technique and finally, for drama, Caravaggio.