After graduating from the Royal college of Art in 1985 my first career was as a fashion designer in a very creative predictions company in London. It was fast paced, coming up with new ideas for big companies season after season. It suited me well as an ideas person I could channel my hyperactive creativity in many ways. In 1989 I moved on to become head of Knitwear at Burberry working with twenty six factories, producing two knitwear collections each year, I did this for nearly a decade.
In 1999 I moved to Devon with Peter my partner and our young family, my focus shifted from design and painting became a passion. Devon is so beautiful every day we would say "What a view".
In 2003 we started Brambles Art Retreat - as teachers offering painting holidays at our home in Devon. We have had over 3000 guests on our courses. We now offer courses in many other locations worldwide as well as at Brambles.
My recent work - The Drawn to The Valley mining legacy project became a passion. I immersed myself in the history of the wheel houses and mines, I fell in love with their shapes, the drama of the buildings and the ruins still standing. Their powerful Legacy led me to explore the interesting lives and stories of the miners and their families. In researching and exploring the social history I tapped into local groups that share the history of mines through photography and historical facts and local knowledge. Fascinating facts and information being shared through social media.
I didn't want my paintings to become representational of the remains of the mines, I wanted to paint an emotional response to my research, a way to express the darkness of working in a mine, the fear of the dark and the danger. I did this by painting in the negative, black skies and white buildings. The use of line was almost like an architects sketch, not solid brick and granite, slightly unreal and transparent. Colour came later representing, the valuable ore, the prize, the reason for their being.
I enjoy working in sketchbooks and work in several books at the same time. I used to be a photorealistic painter, every brushstroke had its place and the final outcome had to be totally realistic. Drawing quickly and loosely in a sketchbook gave me the confidence to move on, to scribble and splash paint around in a much freer way. They are my immediate response to a view, a record of the most interesting vistas.
I research and develop ideas in them and have them as a record of all the places I have visited and painted. It's a romantic record, my drawings are the 'best bits' all rolled into one. They are fun to look back on and it's interesting to read the spontaneous comments written at that moment in time.
What is the best work related thing you have done recently?
Organised a dream painting trip to Japan. Its been on the boil for the last four years. Two weeks travelling around visiting the best of Japan and painting at the same time. Travelling with a group of people that love to paint as well.
For more information on Brambles Art Retreat, please visit: www.bramblesartretreat.com
Where is your favourite place?
Sat 7500 feet above sea level in a tiny roof top cafe, wrapped up in warm clothing, with cool crisp air in my lungs and a 360 degree view of the Himalayas, takes a lot of beating. Tucking in to a plate of tiny spicy sausages, cooked to perfection in a kitchen the size of a cupboard. Darjeeling is a fascinating place, lovely people, amazing culture, and a refuge from the heat.
What is your worst habit?
Doing too many things all at the same time.
What irritates you?
I'm accident prone, dropping a table on my head, cracking my head on a beam when I jumped over a vacuum cleaner, slipping and grabbing a heavy mirror and it hit my head, slipping down the last two stairs and breaking my ankle..... all very irritating!
Top 2 dinner party guests?
1. Vincent Van Gogh - I'd like to meet him at the time in his life when he was at Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. I was so moved by his paintings from this time.
I love his letters that he sent to his brother and all the sketches he drew in them showing him his ideas. To watch him paint and see his use of mark and choice of colour would be amazing.
2. John Glover - celebrated artist from Leicester that emigrated to Tasmania when he was 64. He spent his last 18 years starting a new life in this country. Wow what a journey and what a life changing move. I'd like to hear all about his journey and the dramatic changes he faced moving to such a remote place.
Which super-power would you most like to
I'm not sure I'd like the responsibility that comes with a super power. The power to invent clean energy.
What is your favourite motto?
Live, Laugh, Love.