I was drawn to toy making by two different events. The first was that I had a baby daughter and it was wonderful to see how a child explores the world. I started to make things for her to play with. The second impetus was that I was teaching very close to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. I became fascinated by their collection of wooden Noah’s Arks that were made in the Erzgebirge area of Germany.
I went to Camberwell Art school where I trained as a painter. I had to learn wood working on the job.
I have always been fascinated by hand-held objects because you can understand them with your fingers as well as your eyes. They can have a talismanic value. Most of my working life has been spent in creating a whole world of animals reducing them to their essence.
It is often the case that my customers initiate ideas. They enjoy the fact that they can choose which animals go into their arks including some I have never heard of. They have also latched on to the idea that the Ark itself can reflect something important to them. The customer who ordered the ark in the image you can see had specified that there should be Greek elements in the ark, as the father of the child is Greek. Thus the Vitruvian wave is a Greek motif as is the eye on the boat.
My next challenge is to produce an ark where the house is based on a South African Cape Dutch house.
I feel very lucky to be part of a group of like-minded compulsive makers working from home and using natural materials. The Guild has meant very much to me for many years.
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