I grew up by the sea and still live on the Suffolk Coast, in the breezy town of Lowestoft.
I spent my childhood illustrating school work ‘beautifully’ (according to my school reports) and I spent long school holidays drawing to pass the time as my mum permed and set old ladies’ hair. I continued to draw all through my school years and beyond.
After graduating in 2000 with a First Class Degree in Design Crafts, I set up my own business as an artist and textile designer. I exhibited across East Anglia and throughout the UK. I attended many 1950s Rock and Roll events, selling my hand printed Elvis Hawaiian shirts and 1950s inspired prints.
In 2002 I began my teaching career in Further and Higher Education as a part-time lecturer and became module leader for Visual Studies, teaching drawing and printmaking for fourteen years until my circumstances changed. This led me to apply for a place on the prestigious Children’s Book Illustration MA at the Cambridge School of Art, where I graduated with distinction in 2018.
A new chapter in my life began.
The MA opened up a whole new world to me and gave me the confidence to create my own stories and illustrated picture books. I am passionate about drawing from observation and during the MA I realised that my home town and the surrounding area deeply influenced my work. In particular, the remnants its thriving fishing trade and its industrial and working landscapes, and a love for the everyday lives of its people. The MA also helped me to allow my observational eye to work alongside my imagination and combined with the discovery of my own rich maritime family history it inspired me to create new and exciting work. I work mostly in pencil and ink and find their raw and honest nature helps me to create atmospheric illustrations that reflect the honest and hard-working fishing industry of my home town. I also enjoy translating my illustrations into print. I particularly admire the traditional process and the ‘hands on’ approach that linocut allows. I hope my work evokes a sense of place and brings the sights and smells of a moment in time back to life.
I was over the moon when I was awarded the 2019 Templar Illustration Prize for my ''Bread, Buns and Biscuits'' children's book, a non-fiction story with a warm narrative, inspired by my granddad Percy and the fishing heritage of my hometown. And now with its perfect adapted title - ''The Baker by the Sea'' (published in May 2022) a lyrical, richly illustrated story that explores a child's relationship with his sleepy seaside fishing town and with thanks to the great team at Templar Books, my debut picture book is doing really well!
We made the shortlist for the AOI World Illustration Awards 2022 - selected from over 5,000 entries from 77 countries.
We are on the USBBY Outstanding International Book List for 2023 - a selected honour list of international books for young people in the United States.
We were nominated for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration 2023 and we were so thrilled to make the longlist too! The Yoto Carnegies celebrate outstanding achievement in children's writing and illustration respectively and are unique in being judged by librarians.
To top it off, we made the longlist for the 2023 Klaus Flugge Prize! - for the most promising and exciting newcomer to children's picture book illustration.
Watch this space for updates on the Klaus Flugge Prize 2023!