1 Rossendale Road, Folkestone. A plain enough address to most, but to me a place of almost sacred meaning. For just yards from there a bomb fell, witnessed by my parents, during WWII. And there, a few years later, I was born. It was a time of rebuilding after the war, but the bomb crater remained throughout my early years. For kids back then, austerity was taken for granted, and such forbidden places as bomb craters were greatly loved in which to play.
For me, the strange shapes created by the heat of the blast; the rocks, the twisted metal and melted glass, was a fascination. It was the seed for what was to become my passion.
I began drawing and painting, and had dreams of going to art school. Family circumstances dictated otherwise, and I ended up enduring decades in the corporate world of meaningless meetings and pointless office politics. Over those years I dabbled in my own time with art workshops and courses, frustrated by a lack of direction and enough time to progress. In 2003, they called for voluntary redundancy, and with great trepidation – versus a reckless need to do something with my life – I leapt.
Enrolling with Canterbury Christ Church University for a Fine Arts degree, I didn’t enjoy the first year of compulsory ceramics, printmaking and sculpture, and wondered if I’d done the right thing; the feeling of clammy, wet clay not helping. A student kept bugging me about joining an extra-curricular stone-carving class (and no reader, I didn’t marry him, it’s not that kind of story), and I eventually went along, mainly to shut him up. I now thank him for his persistence, for in it I found the truth – I’m not a painter.
All those years playing with three-dimensional shapes in that bomb crater left me with an urge to work with materials and create objects. I continued with external courses, and in the final year of my degree took a glass-fusing workshop, and fell in love with kiln-fused glass.
In 2011, I completed my degree and went forth. I’d already been working with a silversmith friend for a while and in 2004 had formed a partnership with him making distinctive jewellery. Together we are known as Ag47, and we sell all across the South East.
It’s been a complex, wonderful, and at times, challenging journey, and a distant cry from the oppressive corporate world, but I now create and display my own work in galleries and exhibitions around Kent and sell both in the UK and Europe.
The world around me continues to flow into my work: an image in a magazine, a weird fungus growing by my gate, the tilt of a stranger’s head in a crowd – tiny things that stimulate a new line of enquiry for me, and I delight in pushing the boundaries of the materials I use to create my art.