Bio

Although I originally trained as a sculptor, I turned to watercolours at about the time of my move to Budapest (1993). It is a versatile and very portable medium and I associated it with travel, especially when I saw the works of J.M.W. Turner, David Roberts, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent. The majority of my works are in watercolour but I occasionally work in oil, like the above self-portrait, done a long time ago (in a swimming cap) and I sometimes wonder why I don’t do more work in this medium. Maybe I will!

I’ve taken my watercolours with me to many parts of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle – East. In places like Cairo or Damascus I’d finish a painting, turn a corner and feel an overwhelming need to paint another picture. I’d drive my wife crazy because I would spend over half the day sitting on the edge of pavements trying to finish a picture there and then. I wanted to complete the pictures there because it somehow made them more valid, all the dust and everything sticking to the painting as well. In the end I had to stick to a quota of paintings to do everyday while travelling (i.e. far less than I thought I could do) otherwise I would do nothing but paint all day long

I’ve never consciously pursued a single style. A good idea or the nature of the subject matter (or my circumstances) almost dictate how I should depict it. Most of my pictures are observations of real life with a little embellishment by me. I think anything that is visually interesting, or that provokes a story, laughter, imagination, empathy and understanding is valid food for my pictures.

I moved to Budapest in 1993 and as a foreign artist in a foreign country I obviously became interested in depicting the things I found different about the place. I pay a lot of attention to details in my Budapest pictures, because it is important to the narrative of the picture. A lot of places can generally look much the same as another, but if you put in details that are specific to the place, like people’s clothing, street signs, brands of cigarette, moustache styles, cafe etiquette etc. then you get a more complete picture and it shows a specific place at a specific time.

In a city like Budapest you can witness anything from the plain hilarious to the weird and macabre in a matter of minutes on the same street. Essentially, my Budapest pictures show people being people, dogs being dogs, pensioners behaving badly and everyone generally being themselves. Without exception all these pictures have been inspired by real people in real places.

Growing up in Kenya has influenced my paintings in many ways, especially colour and pattern. Ostensibly, the paintings of palms and african animals are to remind myself of home. The designs featuring African wildlife came about through looking at pattern and also the desire to paint an elephant or zebra from a different perspective and point of view other than that of standing contentedly under another lone thorn tree.

I did my art training in sculpture (welded steel, cast iron) and I still regularly create sculptural pieces that are used as decoration or as functional pieces for interiors. I mainly use aluminium cans or cardboard boxes that have been thrown out. Trees are a favourite theme but I have also produced puppets and specialist sets for theatre as well. I have been inspired by African metal workers and craftsmen (Jua kali crafts) who produce amazing art and functional objects using reconstituted metals and a lot of imagination and ingenuity!

As well as producing my own works, I have worked as an illustrator for a variety of magazines (Egypt Today, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, FHM, The Cairo Times, Timeout Magazine Budapest) and I currently produce illustrations for Forbes Magazine Hungary. I have had exhibitions in the UK, Croatia, Kenya and various Galleries in Budapest, and you might see some of my pictures and murals in a few well-known (and some not so well known) bars and cafés.

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