This Blogpost is in response to an invitation from the artist Gerry Smith to chronicle memories about being inspired to make Art.
The book was in a room that was more like a studio, it had a small library and also my uncle's piano. He was the Church Organist.
I remember looking at the mine pit-heads resembling the Martians from the War of the Worlds. The pit-head winches lowered the cages of miners and digging tools down the vertical shafts descending to the branching and snaking subterranean mines tracking along the seams of condensed, rotted organic material that is coal.
The mining towns nestling in the South Wales Valleys snake into each other connected and shaped by the convoluted terrain they inhabit, forming close human communities woven together by church, rugby and choir.
This condensed urban environment was in stark contrast to the area that I grew up in. The Thames Valley flood plain underlies a vast, flat, homogeneous, commuter spill spreading out beyond Heathrow from the South West London suburbs.
The town of Farnborough forms a hub within the vast suburban sprawl stretching out across the land. It is where the first powered flight was made in England by Samuel Cody in 1908 leading to formation of The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE).
Both the house I grew up in and the secondary school I attended were situated on the approach flight path of Farnborough aerodrome. I wanted to escape from school and toward the latter year or two truanted with increasing frequency eventually Playing Truant in the Art Room.
The RAE was a significant local employer and many friends and family including myself worked there. I also flew gliders there at weekends. It was a military research facility and the skies over Farnborough were populated by exotic and often predatory flying machines.
All of the above experiences have influenced me; I was always drawing in an attempt to explore the physical and biological systems as well as diverse cultures, machinery, structure and process.
I went to Middlesex Poly (formerly Hornsey School of Art) and focused mainly on Painting though also did printmaking and some sculpture, film and video.
One of the most memorable pieces of advice I received was from Brian, the print technician, who informed me that simple complexity was preferable to complex simplicity, that has stuck with me, I don't know if I achieve it.
The images I make rise out of these personal and shared histories. Dreaming in Public.