I opened my open studio and art gallery in 2005 in the The Old High Street, Folkestone. In 2007 I needed more space for my business and moved to larger premises in the same street. I paint oil paintings of the surrounding area.
Initially, I had a range of just eight prints and turned out two paintings week in week out but now the gallery has developed and I have a range of over 300 prints that people can order in a variety of formats and sizes, and I do a wide variety of paintings and commissions some of which can take several months each.
My most notable recent commission is ‘Forever England’, a life-size painting of the entire 1914 England Rugby team for the RFU to commemorate the players that fought and died in the First World War which hangs next to the Royal Box permanently in Twickenham Stadium.
More recently, the video work I’m doing is becoming more prominent and I’ve started doing a few digital paintings. Dell approached me to explore painting using a touch-sensitive screen and this an art format I will continue to develop.
Location – Folkestone
I went to school here until I was 13. The seaside town is rich in subject matter for an artist, as is the surrounding area from Dover to Romney Marsh. I moved back here after living abroad for several years. I thought I’d have to work in a more mainstream job in London as that was where the main employers were but I enjoyed painting so much and continued to develop my work while working part-time. After a few years the interest in my paintings had grown substantially so I took the plunge and opened my studio gallery 10 years ago here in Folkestone.
The seaside town is rich in subject matter for an artist, I love living by the sea and I liked what the Creative Foundation is doing for the area, regenerating and developing the Creative Quarter. The idea of working by the sea has a real lifestyle pull factor for me.
Advantages of Shepway
Starting and growing a business is not too expensive here, and with the high speed train line, I’m close to London. Space is much more affordable here so I have quite a large gallery in the heart of the Creative Quarter to showcase my work in. I also live a stone’s throw from the gallery which means I don’t waste any time commuting. That’s a big advantage for me.
Funding and Support
I have benefited from the Discretionary Rate Relief Fund provided by Shepway District Council. It has helped grow my business and a financial incentive to stay in the area. Every bit of funding helps.
I have a great relationship with the Creative Foundation and attend many of their events. Having been here for 10 years I know many of the people who work at the Creative Foundation and nearly all of the tenants in Folkestone’s creative community, the Creative Quarter. It’s very much a supportive, collaborative informal network.