I was born and brought up on the east coast of Scotland, and this has had a major influence on my work. My world at that time had three main lines of influence: the spine of the Sidlaw Hills and the Angus Glens to the north; the city of Dundee, with its port and industries; and the River Tay, from its Highland stretches around Dunkeld and Kenmore to the wide river firth between Angus and Fife.
Like many other artists, writers and musicians, the foundations for the colours and themes I have used in my work were put in place by the environment and experiences of my childhood. I lived in a landscape rich with folklore and traditions, where the footprints and legacy of the previous people who had passed over the land were not only a memory, but a part of everyday life.
As a child, I spent a great deal of time looking into the display cases of the local museums. Many Saturdays and school holidays were occupied in the dimly lit rooms full of local treasures. Pictish stones and objects found in the fields near my home fired my imagination. Relics of the cities whaling industry including beautiful scrimshaw work and personal possessions gave an insight into the lives of people who had shaped the city I grew up in. I believe the occupation of museums, collecting artifacts and how they were displayed, has had a direct bearing on how I have chosen to create my work. The museum cases have left their mark!
The wide river firth of the Tay had a major part to play in my upbringing. Not only did it provide a workplace at the docks for my father, but it was another great source of ideas and images. Strangely enough, many lot of these stem from the futility of fishing with homemade drop lines from the pier at Broughty Ferry as a young boy. Hours spent dangling a line into the water hoping that something would bite. Most of the time the hooks were baited with nothing more than homemade milk bottle cap lures, sparkling in the water below the pier. What I didn't know was that what I was 'catching' was a love of the coastline. The stories of the old fishermen, the history of the river in the Castle Museum, and the colour and mood of the changing river that would be a main part of my artistic vision.
I now travel and exhibit widely around Scotland and the UK, and carry with me the same curiosity and sense of place that I developed growing up on the banks of the Tay. The coast still plays an important role in my work along with the countryside. New folklore and traditional tales, similar to the ones I heard as a boy, still inspire me and evoke images and ideas for my art. That wee boy peering into the museum case still lives inside me and is still drawn to finding new treasures in the landscape and imaginations of Scotland.