Biography

Born 1965, Bedfordshire, England, in an artistic and design-oriented family.

Lived in South Africa as a child, 1975—1984, evident as a strong influence in my watercolors, in terms of subject matter and my use of mainly earth tones. As a teenager I learned batik, weaving, and dressmaking, and assisted myself through university by designing clothes, shop windows etc., and by teaching sewing, handcrafts and adult literacy in the notorious Crossroads township/squatters camp near Capetown.

In 1985 I left South Africa because of increasing political involvement, and accidentally became a long-term cruising sailor when I met my then husband en route to England, (which we only reached four years later, after detouring via the Virgin Islands, the East Coast of the States, back to the V. I. where our son was born, and finally recrossing the Atlantic).

At that time I began to paint and draw, particularly on silk. Our life on the water has been the main influence here, with mainly blue to turquoise backgrounds and depictions of marine and bird life, as well as the occasional mermaid. During the nineties, mainly spent in England, where my daughter was born, I gradually began to draw more, and ten years ago, to try my hand at watercolours. My primary interest in drawing people then began to re-assert itself.

My paintings increased in size and brightness immensely once I returned to the Caribbean (on our new boat “Ushuaia”, just in time for the Millenium), as if reflecting the tropical environment. Many were of West Indians in a portrait-like style, as well as local flora and fauna, though I also paint fantasy, mythological and historical subjects. In the period 2000-2001, mainly spent in the southern Caribbean, I exhibited work in Grenada and Carriacou, Bequia, and Antigua. Since December 2001 I have lived in the Virgin Islands, at first on our boat. My painting “Leather-hat Rasta” won the watercolour prize at the 2002 Caribbean Colors Exhibition, and “Bright Robe”, one of my first pastels, won a drawing media prize in their 2003 show.

During 2003 I began to teach a small ceramics class, making clay whistles, known as ‘ocarinas’, at Maho Bay Camps, www.mahobayclayworks.com. The availability of the studio there, and the assistance and encouragement of the ceramicist, Gail Van de Bogurt, and other friends, has enabled me to expand into ceramics as my primary medium, and to produce first dolls, and subsequently an ever-expanding repertoire of sculptural pieces – including animals, busts, platters, tiles and large reliefs. My daughter Merryn is a keen sculptor too, and we co-operated on many projects, until she went to art school in the States.  In the summer of 2005 we built a small workshop ashore in Johnson Bay, where we had our own Raku kiln. This allowed me to produce a number of large commissions (see Commissions page).

At the end of 2006, I moved to St Croix, the largest and most distant of the Virgin Islands, 35 miles from St John, and after 22 years of living on and sailing boats,  came ashore to an acre of land in the rainforest north of Frederiksted.

My work is available at Mango Tango Gallery, St Thomas, and at Bajo el Sol in St John, where I have annual shows. Works can also be commissioned through the Whim Museum Gallery and Landmarks Museum Store in St Croix, and through Fort Frederik Museum.

My art studio is in and around some of the ruins of an old Danish plantation, Little Lagrange, farmed by the Lawaetz family for four generations through all the historical periods, hurricanes, wars and fashions St Croix has survived. The massive forest trees, some of which go back to the 19th century, have certainly witnessed a great deal, and have been very neglected of late, so overlooking a new ceramics, painting and teaching studio should be a change!

Contemplating the forest, scenery and ruins of this most beautiful corner of St Croix has woken in the artist a strong feeling for the land that lay dormant for twenty years on the sea – a new influence but also one that strongly calls on my childhood in England and in the Celtic kingdom of Cornwall where I lived in the late 1980’s. This is most readily seen in the stoneware and raku figures of Faeries, Elves and other spirits of the woodland I have made since 2006.

The history of the area also includes the Arawak/Carib Amerindian period, the Maroons (escaped slaves who fled to the forest areas nearby, and lived in their own part-African, part-Indian fashion), and the Danish Colonial period, so a plethora of inspirations for my African and Amerindian style work, as well as European influences.

During 2007 and 2008 the studio was in an old shanty, but we were still able to teach classes, host clay-days, and visitors could come and see the progress of commissions as they are sculpted and fired. During 2009 the studio moved to the larger building we were restoring, completed in 2011.

For 2012 and early 2013 I will be on sabbatical in Oahu, Hawaii – see new page and new influences!