I was brought up by an atheist mother, a singer who adored church music.
Although she was often moved to tears by the beauty of sacred music, it was nature, the arts and science who were the gods in our house.
To support my own music career, after years of low-paid jobs, I found work helping a friend in a commercial stained glass studio, simply offering manual skills to interpret customers' ideas. I soon became disheartened by what I saw as the 'dumbing down' of this extraordinary medium. I noticed that many churches are now avoiding using any imagery and that fewer stained glass artists have the very particular skills required to paint images on glass.
In contrast with the heady, dazzling power of figurative medieval glass, many 20th century stained glass windows had become simple blocks of cheap, coloured glass, often designed and made by glaziers, with no artistic intent behind them - their function was being reduced to something purely physical; a kind of upmarket net curtain.
I decided to develop my painting, sandblasting and engraving skills to harness the spiritual power of stained glass, in order to explore big issues of today, such as climate, women's rights, addiction and grassroots activism. Instead of removing the images, I decided to change them. My references include bible stories, folklore, tabloid newspaper headlines and personal experiences. I use stained glass as a language, as they did in the middle ages.
I love the peculiar character of very old, broken windows, which have been repaired many times over the centuries. They have a particular poignancy which reminds us of our own fragility and the fragility of the earth.
As a singer, I've recorded 10 albums over 30 years and performed internationally.
For my 2023 solo exhibition at CCA Glasgow, 'Lost Congregation', I made stained glass, 3D sound, film and live performance, to create a fictional, abandoned rural chapel, haunted by its lost congregation, to question our relationship with the land and to celebrate the way nature and grassroots activism, such as compost-making, reclaims abandoned places.
I make large architectural installations and small, highly-detailed light boxes, easily wall-hung like glowing paintings. Please enquire for a list of available works.