Born in Poole, I left school at sixteen and embarked on a career in engineering – trained by the MoD to work on complex instrumentation. I later worked on aircraft systems then production engineering and finally with the Eurofighter.
Today I live in Bournemouth with my wife, Jackie. We are both lucky enough to work from home, which has given me opportunity to work on art.
I create with a variety of micro plastics and I use my own special tools and techniques that I’ve been crafting over the years. I carve and paint my art, slowly adding details and colouring. To begin I sketch out my designs and I usually have to make several prototypes. Each piece can take months of painstaking work before I am content with the result.
Since November 2019, I have been working hard on the technical and artistic challenges of micro art. The art is labour intensive and arduous to make but the gratification I get from people’s reactions makes it all worthwhile. It is no exaggeration to say that everything connected with making the sculptures is complex. It is a real challenge to control my hands and my breathing let alone create something almost literally out of nothing. Only when you look into the microscope for yourself can you really appreciate the magic, the intricate details and the depth that photos don’t capture. I modify all of my equipment to help me refine my creations, from tools to microscopes everything is customised to fit my art. I must slow down my breathing (to steady my hands) and keep my heart rate as low as possible. A twitch from my pulse can wreck months of work. My hands still jump a little as my heart beats, so I work in a rhythm between each pulse. If I don’t concentrate all the time my fingers can accidentally flick weeks of work off the microscope never to be seen again! Overall my concentration has improved which enables me to sit still for long periods of time. Each piece may take several months to get right as inevitably many attempts are lost in the process. There are certain “hazards” with the creation process, for instance all too often I’ve lost a piece by accidentally squishing it while moving around, they are incredibly delicate. Static electricity can also unexpectedly pull a piece of art away as if by magic. I can blow it away, with a sneeze, a cough or even a stray draft of wind from someone opening a window. Once a piece is lost, you can spend hours hunting around with a magnifying glass and never find it again!
I was first inspired by watching a TV programme about Willard Wigan. He is a great micro artist. Having been trained to work on small complex devices I developed steady hands and a good deal of patience. I knew I had to test my skills and challenge myself to create art as mystifying as his. I spent years discovering just how difficult micro art is to do! After what feels like a lifetime of experimenting, I have managed to fit my work proudly into the eye of needle!
I still think I’m mad to sit still for hours staring into a microscope. The work is microscopic, but the challenges are monumental! I force myself to work at the microscope, as creating is extremely tough and tiring. It is physically and mentally draining with frustrations and unexpected challenges around every corner. One mistake and I can destroy the art with a moment’s distraction. I have to enter an almost emotionless trance. To avoid distractions and the vibrations from passing traffic I have to work only in the dead of night.
I always look forward to seeing the completed art, and the sense of relief that comes from the many challenges of working on such a microscopic level.