For the past 33 years since training in Fine Art at Leicester Polytechnic and specialising in printmaking at Nottingham Trent University, I have continued my own fine art practice, as well as working professionally within the arts and raising a family. I have lived in Rutland (the smallest county in the UK) since 1988. I first arrived in the county as Artist in Residence at Uppingham School and I have lived here ever since. For the past 10 years I have worked solely at my art practice in the village of Wing – which is very apt for a women inspired by birds. My studio is at the bottom of the garden and houses all I need to make my work, including a recently acquired Rochat Albion press. The studio overlooks sheep fields surrounded by gentle sloping hills. It’s not a dramatic landscape but somehow a comforting one and to me feels very much like home. The Rutland countryside does have a wealth of animal and bird life that is a constant inspiration for my work. Rutland Water is just over the ridge which attracts a great diversity of bird life that is world renowned.
British birds have inspired my images since my days as a student when I would gather road kill on my cycle to college and then spend hours drawing them and turning the drawings into etchings. I have a love for familiar garden birds, like the gaggle of sparrows that live in the ivy at the front of the house or the blackbirds that seem to feel they own the garden. As well as the garden birds I also love Curlews, Redshanks and other seabirds that we see when my partner and I travel further afield to Norfolk, Suffolk and Cornwall. I always take a sketchbook on these trips and record the birds we see in scribbles, so that later in the studio I can develop them into more formal designs. I do not work directly from life as I did as a student but use a combination of drawing and imagination. I do like to set the image, whether a bird or animal, within a definite location, like the Orford Hares or the Curlew at Morston.
I try to combine the atmosphere of the place and the shape of the bird or animal to make a successful image. Blackbirds often feature in my prints; I have illustrated them helping themselves to the fruit that I grow, or nesting in the rose bush by the front garden, I love the strength of their form, the black against green. The images I make are always rooted in something I have seen or they have been inspired by something I have read.
Over recent years I have worked as an illustrator for Gardens Illustrated, BBC Countryfile and Country Living Magazine. I have really enjoyed this editorial work as the subject matter fits so well with the way I work and the images I produce. I have also developed a close working relationship with Art Angel Publishing who publish my work as greeting cards and notecards. The high quality of their reproduction and the consideration they give to their artists has made them a lovely company to work with and an association that has benefited my work by bringing it to a wider and larger audience.