I never intended to be a landscape painter.
I was in love with books and stories and felt completely at home in my choice of illustration. I studied this both at Edinburgh College of Art and as a Masters at Brighton University. I made little screen printed books about the characters I loved in northern literature such as Billy Liar and Kes.
Looking back now after twenty years of painting landscapes it seems obvious that they were always there.. in my sketchbooks and choices. Why did I draw things from my hometown when I was away from it? What did that say about how I felt?
I was surrounding myself with the familiar when I was away from home. Not that I wasn't dying to leave Brighouse (the world had been opening up for me with trips to London and even abroad! ). But I think that is echoed in Billy Liar too, he has push and pull towards his home town.
So what happened that I started making big paintings of landscapes rather than focussing on characters? I left uni with lots of hope of becoming an illustrator. I sent my work off to lots of agencies... to no avail. In the meantime I put some of my artwork in a pop up shop in Brighton. I painted two canvasses with abstract seascapes just as something to sell that was less niche. A gallery saw these and asked to stock them...things began to grow at a rapid pace. The next thing I knew I was having solo shows in London and was published by a big company selling my prints internationally. By this point I was painting landscapes but of nowhere in particular. Simplified pieces about colour and mood.
In the end I lost my way a bit trying to second guess what the publishing company wanted. I felt out of depth at the big trade shows brushing shoulders with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen!
I returned to the North. I missed the green and the skies. I decided upon Hebden Bridge really for the countryside and because there was an art scene.
This was when I felt my paintings began to feel really like me. I had an exhibition at Heart Gallery in 2015. Here is a selection:
Gibson Mill (2015)
Blue Skies and Patchwork Fields (2015)
Evening Pike (2015)
Since this exhibition I have been on TV with my landscapes (twice!) and had a piece in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
It made sense when we walked (2019)
I feel so grateful to make art that seems to speak to people . I know now that landscapes are a feeling, they are heritage, they are a sense of place, they are an identity.