Born in Epping, England, in 1952, the son of an East Prussian emigré father and an English mother, I grew up in Essex and London. My first sensory experience was smelling tobacco smoke mixed with the aroma of ice-cream, in a cinema, at the age of two. At 3, I saw the film Che Sara Sara (James Stewart, Doris Day), and I still retain two images from it. Finally, I was reading shop-signs from a bus, at 4. During my childhood, I won prizes for my art work, and exhibited it in a variety of settings. At 14, I began to paint seriously. My first works were large scale water-colours, in an expressionist style. I used multiple images within a single situational ‘frame’, and I’m still doing this. I earned my Foundation Diploma at Southend School of Art, and then began work at an art school in Thurrock (run by ‘Tom’ Oliver), in his sculpture department. It was a great place for anyone to be creative.
While I was at Thurrock, I had my first show of paintings, at Essex University. Those paintings were all representational, although without being overtly so, as I was already pushing towards abstraction. They have all now either been mysteriously appropriated by others or else disappeared. After that show, I realized that I needed to build a portfolio. In order to do this, I moved to London. I found that the galleries there were far less interesting than the night life; but, I worked hard at drawing, got one into a local gallery, and I became determined to go to art school to get more focus.
With neither preconceptions nor money, 1970s London was a wonderful place for me. I lived in Fitzrovia, where I made a replica of Rouen Cathedral in cardboard; bumped into Descartes; had a show of drawings; and, sold one. It was where I took my first real steps in the lonely pursuit of abstraction: in visually achieving meaning without directly representing things. So, it was where I first engaged with the problems of determining what exists, painting ideologies, and –ultimately- painting ontological concepts.
Bruce Cooper and I enjoying a bright, chilly, 1975 evening in Green Park. After preparing my portfolio (for a few years), I was then accepted at Central, to study Fine Art. My tutor was John Plumb, a great guy with a great attitude. I learned a lot at Central, and I graduated in 1978.
1978, graduation, and the shock of post art school life. After Central, I worked at another Art School in London. It was -quite often- a miserable experience. I did have the pleasure of meeting Da Wu Tang though, during this time. He was a calligrapher. He took me through my first steps with Chinese characters. He taught me how to use a brush for Chinese writing. Da Wu was working on a monumental scale, and that inspired me artistically, but he also inspired me to move out of the UK to Asia.
I settled in Japan, with its vibrant visual culture full of vivid colour and the primacy of the gestural mark, and with a society built on the best of Prussian virtues. I thrived. I studied calligraphy with Kikuo Higuchi.
By the mid-90s, my work had developed to a point at which I felt it would benefit from being exhibited. So, I participated in a few shows, in which I contributed paintings, and also sculpture for the first time; and, in the meantime, I earned two Master's degrees in linguistics.
I now have a small family. We are a part of the very multi-faceted life which exists in 21st. Century Japan. On a rather challenging note, I am worried about my eyes. The East Asian light is far too bright for me. It is pervasively refractive, though I find the luminosity marvelous.