I’m an artist, educator, and arts management consultant with a passion for rural places and the environment. I seem to have lived my life in ten-year cycles, or ten-year shapes. Absolutely by natural evolution rather than design. Not very interested in CVs, but there’s a one here if you’d find it helpful. My passion for ethical arts practice working with the often unconcerned world of contemporary arts led me to the transformative education offered at Schumacher College, where I am now the Programme Leader for the Arts & Ecology postgraduate and research programme and direct art.earth, the ecological arts network also based at Schumacher College.
What’s been constant throughout the cycles is a love of music and of working with sound. I love sound: I love the magic it creates, the worlds it conjures, the memories it holds and revivifies, and the way it represents and defines my world. I’ve not always been able to spend as much time making and listening to sound, but it’s always there.
For ten years I was a techie, I suppose. I composed, got involved in film, ran the ‘sound studio’ at Dartington College of Arts (late lamented) working alongside composer Patrick Gowers, did a Masters Degree at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in California, met my wife Nancy who remains my best friend, companion and soulmate, and learned how to manage spaces, people and technology. During this time I learned how to create my own electronics thanks to mentors Scot Gresham-Lancaster and Larry Polansky, and I began to learn all about the power of the image.
The next ten years I was an academic, working at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the first interdisciplinary MFA in Electronic Arts, at Dartington College of Arts as a Senior Research Fellow (back in the UK) and finally as Director of Contemporary Music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (back in the US!). My transition out of academic brought me back to the UK as a Research Fellow at Rescen at Middlesex University. During this period I had also formed the dance-theatre company half/angel with my wonderful collaborator Jools Gilson. Together we made magic, and showed work across Europe and North America. We owe a debt of thanks first to STEIM in Amsterdam and secondly to the Banff Centre in Canada for nurturing our early experimentation with building interactive environments, marrying the moving body to word, image and sound.
In the next ten (++) years half/angel reached its peak, creating a major performance and a major installation for Cork’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2005. During this time I began to develop my skills as a producer as well as an artist – so I call this phase my artist-producer years. During this time I became more and more involved in Aune Head Arts, the company Nancy and I had founded way back in 1997 – partly as a way to bring us back permanently to the UK. We both had had enough of being in the US with its messy politics and increasingly right-wing lunacy. After 2005 when half/angel began to wind down, I focussed full-time on Aune Head Arts, becoming the lead developer responsible for ‘bringing home the bacon’. The company has grown in style, ambition and reach, and I’m immensely proud of my time with AHA and the work the company has produced. Visit the website to see more of the amazing work this unique organisation continues to produce. During this time I also continued teaching, first on the MA Arts Management, and then as course leader on the MA Arts & Ecology at Dartington College of Arts. Teaching remains important, as does the making process. I’ve become increasingly involved in radio, serving for a while as Chair of SounDart Radio 102.5fm, and continuing a weekly radio programme on the station. I therefore describe this phase as Artist-Producer.
I became involved as a Board member of numerous organisations, including Dance in Devon (Devon’s Dance Development Agency), Dance South West, Organic Arts, Soundart Radio and others, and served as a Board member/Trustee of Aune Head Arts until the end of 2012.
Since 2013 I’ve transitioned again. I am branching out as a freelance composer, sound designer, mentor, and consultant, working with a broad range of arts-focussed clients. Having relocated from the edge of Dartmoor to the edge of the sea (but still in Devon), I’m discovering a new love – for the sea and for the majestic trees that grow around here).
Since 2000 I have become increasingly aware of the importance of being in the world, and of making art that plays a part in that world – art that pays attention to the world around it. My work in this century represents a particular form of this practice, making work that of OF place rather than simply being ABOUT place (to paraphrase Lippard), and my knowledge of how to develop projects with places and with communities has grown immensely. This is what I call ‘Arts & Ecology’ – a contested and contentious title that sometimes is very useful – because I consider this an ecological practice.