b.1972 Oban, Argyll, Scotland
My art is rooted in the Romantic Tradition - the realisation of the enormity of the natural world and the importance of its existence: Nature not seen as a backdrop to a human drama, but as an instructing power which has a massive hold over our lives and of which we are a small part. A way of living, of seeing the world and of sensing the underlying unity between everything. The admission to feelings, of emotion, and the acknowledgement of the mystery and magic of existence.
I have always admired the Canadian painter Emily Carr for her passionate love of nature and growth and her ability to communicate the energy all around us. My undergraduate dissertation focused on the work of Caspar David Friedrich and the conception of Romanticism. The relevancy of this becomes ever more apparent as the world wakes up to the climate crisis and our impact on the world around us.
At school I was lucky to have Margaret Smythe as my art teacher. She instilled a love of creativity that helped set me on this path. I studied under Lottie and Mark Cheverton, at Leith School of Art, in Edinburgh, after leaving school. This was an extraordinary year of being guided and encouraged by two ever enthusiastic and nurturing teachers. Their encouragement for rigorous observation and drawing is ever present when I am working.
After graduating, In 1995, with a BA Hons in Fine Art from Newcastle University I was always on a trajectory to get back to the West coast of Scotland. It is there that I find my energy and my inspiration.
Ben Cruachan was my horizon as I grew up on the side of Loch Awe, near Portsonachan. It is an image imprinted on my soul, and a mountain I revisit often. From Ardfern, where I have settled, there seems a direct link between the Paps of Jura and the peaks of Cruachan - both iconic and instilled with a rugged fame.
The research for my work comes through a physical engagement with the land. I hill run, was part of Oban Mountain Rescue Team, adventure-raced and generally spend as much time outside and immersed in the wild as possible. Often my work is not a portrait but a response: feelings felt, air breathed, space and freedom found, energy experienced.