I was born in 1941 and was brought up in Sussex, although my actress wife Mary and I have lived in the North West of England since the 1960s. I trained initially as a painter at Brighton Art College but have earned my living with a wide range of practical trades that include carpentry, sculpture, museum design, mural painting and signwriting, a bit of an arty jack-of-all-trades. I have worked as a theatre designer and props maker on large scale outdoor events, and was a core member of the performance arts company Welfare State International for a number of years. My biggest local theatre work was as the co-ordinating designer for the Chester Mystery Plays in 1987 and 1992.
In parallel with this theatre work I have always pursued an interest in the history and practice of folk and popular art in Britain and have written four books and lots of articles on the subject. The relationship between naÔve art and formal fine art continues to fascinate me. The need to earn a living made me concentrate particularly on the vernacular arts of the inland waterways and until recently I practised as a specialist signwriter and decorator of the traditional narrow boats of the English canals. My most recent book is Flowers Afloat, a detailed study of the folk art of the canal boat people.
Since reaching my nominal retiring age I have been concentrating on a return to painting and drawing for its own sake and hope to develop my skills as an all-round artist and sculptor. As something of a late returnee to Ď fine artí from applied art I am having a wonderful if rather confusing time experimenting in a variety of different styles and media, and am enormously grateful that I have the luxury of this opportunity. I am a regular participant in a local life drawing class, for I still feel that observing and drawing the human figure is, as I was taught at Brighton over half a century ago, still a good way to train the eye and hand, and is pretty good for the spirit as well.
A networking group of 60 artists, living in and around Oswestry, UK