My first memory is dancing. My second memory is dressing up and writing plays. My third memory is of one particular drawing, a weaselly creature on its legs, copied from a library book on Saturday afternoon when I was nine or ten years old. I remember the shock when it was finished, that it was so exactly like the one in the picture, and the raised pitch of my mother's voice 'Have you done that? Have you really just done that?' I've never grown out of the where on earth has that come from buzz. That's the high behind every successful painting. There are many that aren't, the trouble being those cunning goal posts which shift as skills developed and tastes morph.
Painting hasn't always been at the forefront of my day. As an artist I'm self-taught. I had a science education and became a speech and language therapist, later a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, then a poet. It took a while but I came to understand that these two were not so far apart as I'd initially thought, both involve pushing hard at the limits of language. As a writer whose themes are science and nature, I have published books and taken part in funded projects, performances, residencies and fellowships as well as teaching in a variety of settings. Details of the books can be found on the poetry page of this site.
For some people, painting is also an act of communication but this never seems to quite fit the bill for me, though it can be a most welcome by-product. I think, instead, I'm trying to connect with whatever I'm looking at. You can't spend a chunk of time trying to draw something without it becoming special to you, so not just any old tree in any old field, rather that tree, there, in that field. Then the work can become more about the relationship and less about the object.
And every year I say I have never appreciated
until now, the way light coming through poppies
lasers straight to the heart and colours everything.
It also happens with green and blue.
from The Bird Garden, Maxwell's Rainbow