Q: Did you go to art school?
I went to art school in Bristol for 3 years and then got a scholarship to study at Krakow Academy of Fine Art in Poland, which had more to do with getting back to my roots than art. Poland was still under Communist rule then so it was a really interesting experience to live there.
Q: How long have you been painting cats?
About 3 years
Q: I hear you used to do abstract work, why did you change direction?
I had been working on a series of abstract paintings for about 15 years which had gradually become more minimal and pale until you could hardly see them. I kind of painted myself in to a corner with nowhere to go. Sometimes there is no way forwards and you have to take a leap in the dark. I have long been a fan of kitsch and painting cats, the epitome of chocolate box kitsch, was a very natural step and one that I'm having a lot of fun with.
Q: What medium do you paint with and why?
I use oil paint as I prefer its slower drying rate - more time for changing and adjusting, mixing and blending.
Q: Tell us about your painting style?
My painting style has been dictated by the subject matter as in order for the giant cats to feel disturbing they need to possess a certain realism, although I don't want to get bogged down in a slick finish. The paintings are actually fairly loose and painterly and I use quite large brushes for the fur.
Q: Why do you paint such big canvases?
It is a way of removing the original throwaway image from its mantlepiece scale and transforming it into something quite different and new, far more menacing. I also like the touch of absurdity it brings to the paintings.
Q: How did you react when you found out your submission to the Royal Academy was selected?
I whooped and jumped up and down in a childish fashion.
Q: Was this your first submission to the Royal Academy?
Third year of submitting but the first year I've had a painting accepted.
Q: Has the show created a buzz about your work? It's been a really good thing to be a part of. I've had lots of really good feedback and several commissions. ‘Cowboy Joe’ was given a great hanging spot, framed by doorways and viewable glaring down, from several galleries away. I've been surprised that a cat in a cowboy hat has struck a chord with so many people.
Q: What do you do when you are not painting?
Read and nag my children.
Q: What is the inspiration behind your work?
A number of things but I'm sure I wouldn't have started these paintings without my two daughters and all the pink fluffy stuff of their early years. I also draw inspiration through memories of my own childhood, growing up in the 60s and 70s.
Q: Three things that make you smile?
My children, a sunny morning in the garden with a cup of coffee and a good book, thinking of something stupid to paint on a cat
Q: Three things that don’t?
Inequality, freak weather patterns, cats that have been neutered but rediscover the ability to spray and make full use of it.
Q: A word of advice for young artists and graduates?
Don't let anyone try to persuade you you're not a genius.
Q: What next?
Don't know but more of it and better would be good.
Q: Where do you work?
Spike Island Studios in Bristol, a large artists studio group. The light in my studio is beautiful and I love working there. I would hate to work in isolation.
Q: Surprise us?
I had an exhibition cancelled on the day it was due to open because the work was considered pornographic just because it was of male nudes.