Any one would think that failing Art A level twice in succession would be a sure discouragement to follow Art as a career.
However, I wasn’t going to let common sense get in the way, and somehow managed to claw my way into Epsom School of Art And Design to follow the foundation course there.
Further encouraged by failing to achieve this, I joined a small, bohemian troupe of scenic television painters and sculptors who travelled over the country building sets and throwing paint around.
Soon after this, I found myself on the film set of Labyrinth, after a misunderstanding about what my exact talents were.
However, I believed that if the directors thought I had years of experience in sculpting for movie sets then that was their mistake – not mine – all I had to do was keep my mouth shut and my head down.
The learning curve was steep and stressful, always aware that I would one day be discovered as a fraud.
However, as the years passed with no detection, I finally realised that I did now in fact have years of experience in the film industry. With this epiphany came the understanding that while I had succeeded in faking it till I made it, what I was making was fake.
Always gifted at self-sabotage, I once again excelled at this by informing the Art Director of my conclusions.
Following a short argument, I found himself on the other side of the gated entrance to Pinewood studios.
But I saw this as release, and the scene would have been complete with the arrival of a Mustang, its engine rumbling and a beautiful wild woman behind the wheel, smiling as she pushed open the passenger door for me. But that was not to be. I drove home in my battered Ford Cortina.
Now directionless, I somehow ended up in Kenya as a safari driver. I just answered the advert and tried not to lie . . . too much.
And again, I faked it till I made it. The passengers soon stopped screaming and could now hold onto their camera kits.
But then Cerebral Malaria, which nearly killed me.
Shocked at my mortality and the new understanding
of time that came with it, I bought a watch. I looked at it for a while, saw the seconds ticking by and realised I must follow his heart.
A week later I drove to Italy, to the marble mountains of Carrara, Italy, intending to stay there for a few months to learn how to carve stone.
Nine years later, I decided I could finally call myself a sculptor. When I did so, I half expected myself to run away again, in search of another answer, but it remained with me.
I returned to England, set up a studio there, and don’t consider myself a fake anymore.
I have often been asked to describe my work, but can only say that if I could do that, then I wouldn’t have had to sculpt it in the first place.
I know exactly what I’m making, and if the viewer cannot understand it to some degree, then they, or I, have simply failed to communicate.
I have exhibited across Europe, and my works can be found in collections around the world – from public parks and penthouse terraces in Hong Kong to humble suburban gardens.
Currently, it seems I have been drawn back to my roots, creating clay maquettes of animals, which I will then copy in marble. These maquettes may well become bronzes. Sculpting in marble is a one way process, and I like that – the dynamic decision making, like leaping from plank to plank as the bridge collapses behind you.
My hands have missed clay though. The material begins in the hands and fingers, opening up an old line of communication that I have also missed.