From as long as I can remember I have always loved Folk Art and Traditional Decorative Painting. As a youngster I regularly went to Stow on the Wold Horse Fair with my family. It used to have an auction in one of the fields with Gypsy wagons lining the road with stalls. In the main square was a little fairground. Little did I realise at the time that I would be friends with the families there and spend time travelling in wagons on the road myself.
In my teens I had friends with working boats living in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham, and on the cut in the Coventry area.
They worked selling coal in the winter and turned their boats into holiday boats for the Summer, filling them with bunk beds. If you were the first trip out you would often wake up wiyh a bit of coal dust on your face. Ian Sly who worked on the boat called 'Comet' told me about the techniques and tools used to paint the roses and castles and the boat graining that everyone called 'scumbling'. The more I saw of the painting around the more I recognised the individual painters styles.
On the Fairgrounds one style of decoration stood out a mile...t was the work of Fred Fowle.....The master. I wrote to him and was lucky to visit him many times at his workshop in Battersea. Roger Vinney a champion woodgrainer and Mark Gill a fantastic painter were also working there at the time.
I later met Mr and Mrs Billy Hall, of the Hall and Fowle fame. You couldn't wish to meet a lovelier couple. Billy Hall taught me the fairground marbling techniques.
Every time I visited a signwriting studio like the Whitbread Bewery Artists, other Fairground Artists such as Pete Tei and John Pockett I looked at there shelves of paint, the brushes and materials used, constantly eyes were everywhere !
I've now been self employed for over twenty years !..How time flies when you are having fun !