My background in science and art led me to a career in scientific and medical illustration, at least half of which was spent sitting in front of a computer screen. I have now shed my digital chains to return to pencils and paint!
The result is a series of paintings and book looking at the places where I have lived, from my London home near Hampstead Heath, through Louisiana where I worked in my early twenties, to Canada that my daughter Tor now calls home.
London, Canada and Louisiana are ‘My Places’ and ‘My People’; I am emotionally attached to them. I wanted to explore how are they intimately linked by our changing climate.
The journey began in October 2016, recording and painting the new aquatic and meadow planting around the Model Boating Pond on Hampstead Heath in London. Built as a reservoir in the early 17th century to supply water to the growing population of London, it is classed as a reservoir and falls under the Reservoirs Act. In 2011 the City of London Corporation, who manage the Heath, were advised that should an extreme rainfall event occur, the pond could overtop and the communities below the Heath would flood. The pond would need to have its dam rebuilt and reinforced.
Extreme rainfall events are not unprecedented, but UK Met Office research shows that the frequency of them occurring in the UK is rising as the global temperature rises. An increasingly warm atmosphere driven by the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is leading to changes in our weather patterns and having a direct impact on our communities and environments.
I watched the extraordinary excavations at the Boat Pond with amazement and fascination. I hope my paintings reflect the beautiful job that has been done. The pond has been transformed from an ecologically barren urban pond to a rich and diverse ecosystem.
The next stage of my journey took me to Hudson Bay in Northern Manitoba, Canada. It was a seminal moment for me. The vast flat tundra was awe-inspiring in itself but seeing the environmental conditions that are now affecting the Canadian Arctic and tundra brought into sharp focus the ramifications of what is happening there and the impact it is having on what we are experiencing in Britain. The frozen north is not so frozen any more.
My next question was, how are the changes in the Arctic affecting Louisiana, where I used to work and where I have many close friends?
The result is a series of paintings and books looking at how these disparate places are linked by the changing global climate.
It has been quite a journey over the last two years, and there is a lot more exploration ahead.