I was born in East Africa and although for most of my life I have lived in and around London, I am drawn back to the beautiful creatures and wildlife of the Great Rift Valley - most recently to Tanzania, which deserves to be far better known as a safari destination. I was recently interviewed by the company which organises my safaris to remote and interesting parts of the country in search of birds, animals and plants to paint.
Although I have been drawing, painting and making things since I was very young, I have never had any formal art training and my technique and interests are all entirely self taught. My earliest artistic endeavours were influenced by the abstract artists of the 20th Century and it was only when I was asked to do a series of pen and ink drawings for a cookery book that I began to take more of an interest in “real” drawing and producing images people could, by and large, recognise and appreciate. At the time I was living in the countryside and developed a curious taste for foraging for wild foods, at a time when this was still highly unconventional. I taught myself (largely with the aid of a book by Richard Mabey and by trial and error – do not do this yourself) to recognise the edible from the poisonous and the downright disgusting, and I cooked and brewed my way though a lot of plants, mushrooms, berries, snails and other wildlife in the county. I won a National cookery competition (at a time when it was quite unusual for a man even to be seen in the kitchen and the standard was not, to be candid, very demanding) and the prizes went a long way to furnish my first home. I sold one of my first paintings to Virginia McKenna, whom I greatly admire for her tireless work for wildlife in Africa.
The publicity generated by the win led in turn to commissions from popular magazines and the like, and for a short period I was selling paintings through the Maas Gallery on Clifford Street, London which made its reputation specialising in the 19th century Pre-Rapaelite articts. Henry was the dealer at the Gallery at that time and he acted as a sort of agent for me - I think he saw me as a throw-back to the Victorian age of dilettante painters which I suppose I was, since painting has never been my primary profession.
An introduction to Pru Leith who was at the time an enormously influential cook and Restaurateur, led to an introduction to her publisher who sat me down and made me confront the arrogance of trying to maintain two very full time occupations at the same time. The result of his pep talk (and the reality of having to support a rapidly expanding family) meant that illustration had to become a passionate pastime rather than a primary source of income. Now, with financial imperatives not so important, I can focus once again on creative things.
My passion for natural history has not diminished, and I still enjoy foraging for mushrooms and wild produce. These days it is not the solitary occupation it once was, and there are plenty of people foraging for chic modern restaurants and the pressure on the countryside has increased. I will now only collect for personal consumption and only because it is delicious to eat, rather than because it is able to be eaten without actually dying. Friends and family are probably more relieved at that than the wildlife. And of course I paint what I find which is often a race against time, trying to complete a painting before the subject matter has become too spoiled to eat.
My most recent project is a book about some of the extraordinary men who collected specimens of natural history which can still be found in our museums over 150 years later. This has involved me in research in some fascinating museum collections and archives and the stories I have revealed are quite extraordinary. One of the most beautiful archives comprises the diaries and paintings of James Jameson at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. I hope to be able to post a blog about the progress of my research on my website as it progresses.
Oh, and in my "spare" time, I am also a partner in a law firm in London.
Copyright and legal notice
As the creator of all the paintings on this website, I am the owner of the copyright, which means that the right to exploit the image remains with me, even when the original painting is sold. If you want the right to exploit the image as well as enjoy the painting (for instance, turning the image into cards or prints) then I would be happy to discuss an assignment of the copyright.
There are certain images which have already been turned into cards and which I might also turn into limited edition prints (if there is the demand) to sell separately. Limited edition prints will be in a print run of 50 or 100 and individually signed and numbered (and DNA tagged). Once the original painting and any print run has been sold, I will take down the image from my website and archive it.
If you buy or commission a painting, you might want to have your own cards of the painting as Christmas or general purpose cards, and I can give you a price for this.
Please respect the copyright laws for all artists.