1956 Born in Penang, Malaya. My father was a rubber planter and my first six years were spent on a plantation in Kedah – see Movies page: The Henrietta Estate Album. The bungalow seen at the beginning of the film, though remodelled after WWII, was our home. We revisited in 2006 and only the Tamil Temple – where we'd watched the fire walking, remained. The house and garden had just been bulldozered to make way for a new housing developement.
1962 Family relocate to England and I to boarding school.
1974 - 78 Attend art school in London - The Slade, a place of some history and reputation, a place of learning? for myself I can't say.
1978 - 88 During the decade following graduation – along with works in watercolour, collage and sheet metal, I made a succession of multiples* - a body of work that encapsulates my youthful endeavours to find a place in the Fine Art firmament.
And with some success: exhibiting in London, New York, Tokyo and Zurich. This may sound glamourous but in fact even with 3 or 4 part time jobs - teaching night school, working at the Camden Plaza, I was always more or less broke.
Still there is another more fundamental reason my career in Fine Art proved terminal: by the mid '80s I had begun to lose my way – I think you can see this in Sample Book. There was no escaping it – the world of Fine Art is predicated on what is in and what is not; and my bookworks, boxes and watercolours were never going to get into Art Forum magazine.
In the mid '80s my work changed course towards a more, then current, minimalist mode . . . it wasn't long till I decided to quit Fine Art altogether.
1988 I started a business doing specialist finishes** for interiors, working with a number of architects and designers including: John Pawson (including the first Calvin Klein store in Aoyama, Tokyo '94); Claudio Silvestrin (a fashion shop in Graz, Austria which appears to be still there, nearly 30 years on); Anouska Hempel (her London house and hotels).
The work took me elsewhere abroad too: Left Bank Paris (Anouska Hempel's Louis Vuitton store), and the Royal Palace Amman (friezes for Queen Rania's dressing room).
Although I was so pleased to be working in a world where values were far more straightforward, I found myself putting brush to paper again – a respite from the egos and arguments of the design office and of the building site.
2000 So between contracts I started painting watercolours with the figure now my subject. Incidentally the first painting Cast was from photos I took in the cast galleries at the Ashmolean Museum – you could say I got restarted in Oxford.
Beside the stop / starting around commercial projects, building up these watercolours is a slow process; still, over time the paintings began to accumulate. In 2007 Jonathan Cooper Gallery in London exhibited Eleven Watercolours***. The gallery has periodically shown my work since, including a solo show again in 2011: Best Foreign Language***.
2012 Another chapter closes: after a particularly difficult project in the Middle East I decided to quit the world of contracting . . . I'm now full time for the first time.
* A complete set of these 9 editioned multiples is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford – see Archived page.
** Bodleian Library: Supporting material – 3 brochures: specialist finishes (bespoke wall plasters, sheet metals, glass).
*** Bodleian Library: Exhibition catalogues for Eleven Watercolours, Best Foreign Language - see Archived page.
Florence Park, Oxford. September 2020