Image making has been in my blood. I was born in England of Irish parents in 1952, and spent my childhood and early school years in Ireland. During family holidays in Donegal and Sligo, I would often draw and paint in watercolours, encouraged by my mother Elizabeth. I finished my education in England and never lost my love for art and painting. Although an active photographer for many years, I have only recently been able to devote time to painting. From watercolours, I've switched to acrylics, which I find suits my expressive style better, but I still work in both media, often combining them with pastel and crayon.
I suppose most of us are fascinated with light and colour when we are very young. I can still remember my first set of colouring pencils - they were in a small, thin metal box, with a lid, rather like the sort of thing you might buy small cigars in. I must have been four or five at the time. They were "Lakeland" pencils, made in Cumberland, England. On the lid was a beautiful picture of a lake with mountains. To me, this picture was the embodiment of something very special, almost exotic; I grew up in Belfast, in the north of Ireland, and although only a short sea journey from Cumberland, it might as well have been an ocean away, so distant did those romantic lakes seem to my child's eye. You can still buy Lakeland pencils, made by the same company, but they sport pictures of hippos and giraffes now…
My fascination with the magic of photography goes back to when I was eleven years old, when I started off with a home-made pinhole camera. I started developing and printing my own films in my teens, recording London in the 60's. In the 70's, I was invited by Tony Stone to contribute to the stock library which later became Getty Images. In between studying, I worked as a wedding and commercial photographer. I contributed to Tony Stone Images for many years, my speciality being industrial and technical photography, mainly for editorial purposes. The arrival of digital has rendered all these old shots obsolete, of course, except for images of truly historical importance. I now work in digital, but still have my film cameras and darkroom equipment.
I have spent time in Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy and Australia. Each country has had an effect on my painting. Ireland inspires me with its misty mountains and ever-changing subtle light. England (where I live now) has such a variety of landscapes, from peaceful villages to rolling downs and the rugged colours of the Lake District. Scotland has immense expanses of mountainous moors, and miles of fascinating coastlines. Italy has a beautiful light, and landscapes that are steeped in thousands of years of human intervention. Australian light penetrates to your heart and illuminates the landscape with vivid colours, but in this vast continent you can also find endless temperate forests and snow-covered mountains.