2008 3rd International Sculpture Symposium. ( Polemithia, CYPRUS )
2008 6th International Sculpture Symposium. ( Mersin, TURKEY )
2007 1st International Sculpture Symposium. ( Guatemala City. GUATEMALA )
I suppose in retrospect we were relatively well off; my father worked in the city, we had a nice place in a typically middle-class neighbourhood, and I was a privileged only child. We had a big garden with a stream running through it and the surrounding countryside was studded with orchards and woodlands and bomb craters — an idyllic setting for childhood.
I spent a lot of time alone and, encouraged by my mother, did a lot of drawing and painting and modelling clay from the banks of the stream. My maternal grandfather was perhaps the biggest influence in these early years. An engineer who had his spent years in Africa building harbours and bridges, his house in Eltham was full of antiques and memorabilia from his travels and he was a brilliant designer of gardens and furniture. He made me my first work-bench and gave me tools, took me with him to flea-markets and antique dealers and was probably instrumental in my decision to apply for art school after leaving the local Grammar.
As a callow 16-year old with only a moderate portfolio, I was extremely lucky to get into what was then Bromley College of Art, but once there my take on things changed quickly. Suddenly I was immersed in a world where everything was fresh, stimulating and liberating and each day was a pleasure. At that time it was the old National Diploma course so there followed two years of exploring different disciplines, painting ceramics, textile design, and sculpture, with an emphasis on life drawing and life modelling. It was brilliant and we had some marvellous tutors.
After the Intermediate, I was accepted into the sculpture school, and around this time Bromley was combined with Beckenham and Sidcup and became Ravensbourns College of Art and Design and relocated to Bromley Common with a new state-of-the-art building with superb work space and studios. I worked quite hard, I guess. I loved making sculpture and passed the NDD but it was an emotionally charged period. I was not fully focused and failed to get a post-graduate place at the Royal College of Art or the Slade, which I dearly wanted. Also, I guess I didn't show much originality and lacked experience.
I decided to take a year out and travelled around the Middle East and down into Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. I was 21 by this time and returning to England early in 1965 I felt more determined and assured so that getting accepted into the Royal Academy schools was an absolute blessing. Here in London in the dynamic and creative atmosphere of the mid-60's the sense of revolution and change all around in music, theatre, costume, and maybe most of all the philosophy of life, I began to find my feet. I also began to feel a sense of what sculpture at a personal level should be about.
I went through a period of spiritual growth — an awakening one might call it — and wanted my work to reflect that. The feeling that life was infinitely more mysterious, profound and meaningful than it appeared on the surface, that everything was somehow connected, the inner space of the mind, of dream and reflection fusing with the world at large, the boundlessness of space and the mystery of the stars, gave me a greater sense of purpose and motivation. To express these feelings and convictions became the driving force behind my work and so it has remained for the past 40 years.
I left the RA in the summer of 1969, after a near sell-out diploma show of an eclectic group of sculptures in stone, bronze and iron together with prints and drawings, and with the enormous sum of ￡600 in my pocket and the offer of private patronage in the south of Spain — better than teaching, I thought at the time, so my girl and I headed south to the Costa and were given a beachside villa and a small stipend. We worked for our south African magnate for nearly a year before sailing on the last boat from Lisbon to Rio in search of fresh adventure.
We crossed Brazil and the Alti Plano, we touched Cochabamba and Tiahuanaco, and Cuzco where, whilst drawing Inca stones, a chance encounter gave another offer of patronage and six months in the foothills of the Andes. The return voyage took us across the midwinter Atlantic, through Spain and Portugal, and back to England and a friend's place outside Cambridge — a big farmhouse they had inherited with an old stable that I could use as a studio. We settled in for a few years; two children born there; I learnt how to cast bronze from a local master and how to build fro