I was born in Harrogate in the 1960′s and raised on a small family run farm at Menwith Hill, Nidderdale. This afforded me a freedom and understanding of the countryside, which looking back made me very privileged. My Grandfather was the last farmer in Nidderdale to go mechanised and stop using horsepower. He clung onto the ‘old ways’ as long as he could. Today we call his way of farming organic.
When I was at junior school at the end of the summer term we used to go on a nature walk by the river Nidd which ran through the village. We used to pick as many wild flowers as we could and once back in the classroom we drew the flowers. I used to love drawing the flowers and colouring them in, this is my earliest memory of enjoying art.
Once I reached senior school I wasn’t very interested in art and up to the age of 20 had no further interest in it at all. What happened when I was 20 to reignite my passion? Nothing too apocalyptic! I went with my Mother to an art class but I didn’t enjoy it and packed it in after 3 lessons.
But what it did do was teach me the rudiments of understanding colour and how to mix and apply oil paint.
From that point I set up a studio in a small caravan on our farm. I was given an easel by my Father on my 21st birthday and painted anything I could, from pictures of wildlife taken from books, to sitting outside painting farm scenes. None of which were very good but I was hooked.
I stopped painting when family commitments took over, namely my beautiful children, and we moved to a sheep farm in Walden, Wensleydale. In 2008 I started painting again and finally decided on which direction to go. Painting the iconic Swaledale sheep has proven very popular. When I exhibited my work in the Old School House gallery in Muker in 2009 I sold most of my work that was exhibited in that first year.
I am inspired by the varied elements of the Swaledale sheep from the geometrical curve and swirl of the horns, to the random depth of the fleece and the defiant twinkle in their eyes.
I am now living in Richmond, at head of Swaledale and Wensleydale, in the Yorkshire Dales. I take photos of Swaledale sheep in there natural environment to capture the composition and movement I want for my paintings.
My art is dedicated to my Father who was the epitome of the hardened Dales sheep farmer. I loved him dearly and was always encouraged by him to keep painting until he passed away in 2009.