I was brought up in Bath, England, where I learned to swim in the world-famous Roman baths.
Most of my spare time was spent scouring the locality for creatures. (I have always been a nature boy !)
Later I learned the art of taxidermy. Mum’s freezer always contained a few dead animals that I had picked up—I was so keen to preserve and keep them!
Another way I could enjoy wildlife was through drawing. By the time I left school, I was good enough to get into art college .
During my second year at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, I entered a competition. The Macmillan Prize was judged by Raymond Briggs, Tony Ross, and Quentin Blake, and my entry, Bush Vark’s First Day Out, won and was consequently published. The book went on to win the Mother Goose Award. Since this early acclaim, I have been able to forge a career in children’s illustration. My pictures are still mostly of animals and are now drawn in Dorset (the Jurassic coast), where I live with my partner, Sarah, and our son, Oliver.
My illustrations are done with watercolors and colored pencils and are mainly from my imagination, as (I hope ) this gives them an individuality that I would not achieve if I were to work from life or photographs.
In my spare time I play spoons and Bodhrán and sing in a local folk band, grow organic vegetables in a field with a polytunnel, and refine oil used for frying potato chips, which I can use to run my car without damage to the environment.
I was delighted to discover that my Little Wombat series was the inspiration for Northwood Prep School’s Wombat Appreciation Society. They have raised hundreds of pounds for wombat conservation in Australia, and my hope was always that my books might encourage children to cherish and ultimately conserve the wonderful creatures that I so love to draw.