Born into an artistic household, drawing was an ever-present part of my childhood. My mother used to give me offcuts of paper to draw on that were leftover from her printmaking business, and I would happily spend hours inventing stories and illustrating them with all sorts of fantastical creatures. That was how my love of storytelling began.
As I grew up, I sought refuge in my imagination whenever I could, including at school where I would sit at the back of the classroom drawing, hoping not to be noticed. Consequently my maths books were filled with unicorns and flying horses, a fact which probably accounts for my enduring struggle with mathematics.
One teacher did, however, take notice of my early artistic activities and encouraged me to teach a class of younger children how to model in clay. As a naturally shy child I was terrified at this prospect, but to my great surprise, found that I actually enjoyed the experience. I have never forgotten giving my first class at the age of nine and many years on, I still enjoy sharing information and passing on skills to others in my current teaching role at Central Saint Martins and in my Studio.
Camping in the deserts of California as a child and later as an adult exploring the jungle-covered mountains of Brazil, no doubt played their part in developing a lifelong love of natural history, which has fed into my art ever since. When I was asked to illustrate two 'spot-the-difference' books on natural history by Templar (Look and Look Again) I was able to draw on these rich experiences.
Following my formal education, I was offered an apprenticeship at Madame Tussauds, the London waxwork museum, where I learnt the art and craft of portrait sculpture acquiring a host of specialist skills such as sculpting in clay, mould making and hair insertion. In due course I went on to co-found Studio Two, which specialised in animal sculpting and resin casting for Tussaud's expanding exhibitions.
Around this time I was fortunate in having the opportunity to exhibit my work at the Royal Academy in an exhibition curated by Peter Blake. This resulted in a number of exhibitions and commissions. Following this, I was asked to illustrate my first picture book ‘The Pig Who Never Was’, published by Andre Deutsch. Five more books followed after which I was approached by Central St Martins to teach their Children’s Book Illustration course, which I continue to do to this day.
As for my other fine art practices, in addition to my ongoing affair with Koi I am developing my Harpy project more of which can be found on the website.