1. When you were young, what job did you picture yourself having as an adult?
Up until the age of about 15, I always imagined I’d be an artist.
2. When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?
As a young child, but the dream was put on hold for personal reasons.
3. Were you good at art at school?
Yes, but not very disciplined or neat.
4. Do you remember the first exhibition you went to?
To a Matisse exhibition at the Tate, when it was just the one building.
5. Which artist do you most admire?
I guess the aforementioned Matisse, a life dedicated to extraordinary, innovative and life-affirming art. Even as a very old man he was creating glorious, joyful work that celebrated the human spirit.
6. Which talent of his do you covet?
Colour, shape, spirit – just about everything really.
7. If you could own any one painting in history, which would it be?
The Dessert: Harmony in Red by Matisse.
8. What’s the best exhibition you’ve seen recently and why?
I loved Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern last year. I was fascinated by how, after the death of her husband Robert, she survived financially by producing (as well as her paintings) fabric designs, illustrations and other work associated with the quotidian or craft. Whether she knew it or not, she was an early Post Modernist, breaking down the barriers between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. Everything she touched seems to be (like Matisse) a glorious celebration of life.
9. Is there one place that’s had a decisive influence on your work? If so, in what way?
I have been lucky enough to have been awarded two supported residencies in south-west China, in the beautiful Wutong Mountain range. Working and living with artists from China and all over the world, together with the amazing natural landscape and the local people who I met and who sometimes came to my studio, was one of the best experiences in my life.
10. Where in the world would you like to spend six months making your art?
Having only spent four weeks at a time on the Chinese residency, I would love to go back and spend more time, travelling and making art. I’ve only scratched the surface of that amazing country.
11. What subjects are you always drawn to in your work?
I am naturally drawn to the decorative, but like to think that my work sometimes takes it to unsettling places. I want to explore it in a way that is not twee or tame.
12. Which colour do you find yourself using in your work more frequently than others? Is there a reason why?
I adore red, but because I feel the need challenge myself, I only indulge the passion every so often. Red is, of course, such an emotive, strong, sensual colour, I find it irresistible, especially when working with oil paint.
13. How often do you produce a new picture, on average?
My working technique is quite labour intensive, so some work takes about a month to make. I often have a few things on the go at once and usually a series of ink-based work that is much quicker and more immediate – to balance the practice.
14. What’s your studio like?
A good, bright space in the Lewisham Arthouse, London, an artist-led co-operative housed in a beautiful old Edwardian library that was closed in the 1990s. We run the building ourselves and also a gallery and an education programme.
15. How do you relax?
I love to walk.
16. What’s your most treasured possession?
A beautiful watercolour painting by Patrick Procktor that my mother left me.
17. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I couldn’t possibly tell you that!
18. If you could go back in time, when and where would you go?
Maybe back to my younger self to tell her that although she might have to wait a bit, her dream will eventually come true.
19. What plans do you have to develop your art?
I’ve just returned from another residency in China, this time Beijing, which is a chaotic, exciting urban city, very different to where I was before. The experience is leading to some interesting things.
20. How would you like to be remembered?
As a good friend and a good parent, who made some good art.