I grew up amongst the hydrangeas, narcissi, magnolias, grape hyacinths, snowdrops, cowslips, and other floral delights of the mild, damp Cornish climate. Our family home was full of beauty and interest, and filled with magnificent Cornish art and artists. Much later I ran galleries and was an art dealer. Never for a moment did I imagine I could be any kind of a painter myself.
I have been making and decorating for ever. Perhaps I was inspired by Granny Viva’s can-do ways. She made shell pictures, pressed flowers, painted watercolours of primulas for her desk, built ambitious rockeries and put large floating coloured glass balls in her garden pond full of waterlilies and shimmering carp.
My polymath father taught me how the mathematical Fibonacci Sequence can be found all around us in archaeology, science, nature, art and ancient text. We just have to look for it. Wherever I can, I use it in my illustrations: 5 petals, 8 leaves, 13 hairs on a stem... Have you ever noticed that flowers often are constructed as if by a brilliant but eccentric engineer? The cantilevered stamen of a hibiscus sticking up like a coquette? The neon antennae of a passion flower are surreal and the stems and leaves are often as beautiful and complicated as the petals.
I love the kind of art which reveals the order in nature, those pictures which hint at a harmonious rhythm behind our everyday chaos. I see my letter designs as imagined orderings of flowers which you might just glimpse as you walk through a garden – not twisted by hand but by another mischievous agency. It echoes what I find most entrancing in landscape - in art and in person: the harmonious working of man and land which over millennia has formed hills, woods, valleys, barrows, ancient hedges.
I go into an almost fugue state when I have a brush in hand – its meditative as all other thoughts are pushed out. I have had no formal training, and every time I pick up a brush I still have a terrible fear that I will have forgotten how to paint. But I often recall the advice of my friend Jeremy Le Grice, the artist, not to seek out lessons, because the authenticity of an amateur once lost is lost for ever"