A Life in Theatre & Television Design
I had no theatrical background when I entered the theatre professionally in 1966. I came from an outwardly conventional middle class family and was brought in Yeovil, a sleepy town, a cultural backwater, chiefly known for helicopters and in the 1950s was a centre of the glove trade. My father was a doctor and during WWII had been a conscientious objector (as had most of my other relations), and in the 1950s he joined the Quakers. My mother had always been a Quaker. So that much set us slightly apart but it did not really impinge on me: as a child what you have you accept as the norm, at least for the first few years. Like most people in their teenage years I drifted away from religion and only returned later after in my thirties after marrying Ros. Such a background though, did not naturally steer one to the arts. But there was art in the family: a great uncle. Sam Brown was a noted marine artist during the early years of the 20th century and his paintings were familiar to me and I like them. His father too was a gifted amateur water colourist. And my father although in no way thinking of him self as artistic nevertheless, could draw animals which he loved. My mother loved music. The atmosphere in the home was very free in many ways; conservative in taste, very much the Home Service and the Light programme rather than the Third programme on the radio. There was no TV until we (I have two older brothers and a younger sister) were teenagers.
I spent an awful lot of my time as a child drawing and watching my eldest brother do his poster colour landscape paintings which I thought amazing and tried to imitate. Making things as well, either with Meccano or match stick models or card board models from the back Weetabix packets. And playing in our very generous garden. Very conventional. The only time I can remember going to the theatre before leaving school was to see Peter Pan (twice): the visuals made a lasting impression, and a local amateur production of ‘The Mikado’ which I thought amazing. From that moment I was hooked on G&S.
As for education after failing my 11 plus I went first to a very small Rudolf Steiner School in Yeovil and then from 15 to Wynstones Steiner School near Gloucester as a boarder. That was a real cultural eye opener and although not taking on board all of Steiner’s philosophy (Anthroposohy), I flourished in the egalitarian, co-
I was in the guinea pig year after the big shake up in art education: goodbye NDD; hello Dip. AD. Teaching was now moving away from a technical, drawing based curriculum to one more akin to the Bauhaus philosophy. Life drawing and painting was of course still central to the teaching but it was much more about a personal search. I found it quite daunting and for a long time felt out of my depth. The first year was general covering a wide area of arts and crafts and I to begin with had no real idea what direction I would finally take. My work was illustrative -
I have virtually nothing from my first year at Art college except this little sketchbook filled with very ordinary drawings and a few crude paintings. In the text below I mention a painting I was doing of a public park that was commented on by a tutor. I think it may have been based on the sketches of Sydney Gardens, Yeovil, where I spent a lot of time playing with friends as a child, often on roller skates.
|Pre college years|
|Wimbledon School of Art & Richard Negri|
|Musing of a Jobbing Designer|
|Musing of a Jobbing designer 2|
|Musing of a Jobbing Designer 3|
|Musings of a Jobbing Designer 4|
|Where I am now|
|Hwyl a Fflag and after|
|Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru|
|Theatr Cymru playlist|
|Theatr Gwynedd playlist|
|Jeus Sans Frontiers|