It is perhaps something of a cliché to look down on high at tiny human figures to observe that they look “just like ants” but this notion became the basis of a series of drawings which launched my career swerve from architecture into art.
Since childhood I've been fascinated by ants. I used to collect them in a jam jar so I could watch them creating tunnels. While on our honeymoon in Greece I used to watch a huge ant trail with the tiny creatures struggling along with sticks, blades of grass and so on, on their way to some construction project.
This became the inspiration for a drawing called Ant Hill, which I made in anticipation of the birth of my first son back in 2003. We eventually made parts of the drawing into a print, avoiding the bits where eventually he'd scribbled on it!
This led to a series of 'Little Men' drawings which we turned into prints. I love to draw small, so each is on an A4 sheet. The idea from early on was to blow them up as prints. I'd played around with drawing small and blowing them up on a photocopier for years, enjoying the way what appears as a smooth line in the original becomes rough edged as you scale them up.
It was a great pleasure seeing Bazaar blown up to 6ft tall for Priscilla Carluccio’s emporium Few & Far in Kensington. I was very new to being a 'professional' artist when she ordered the print, it was the first time I felt I could legitimately call myself an artist.
I start at the bottom and work my way up, I use a combination of .5 and .05 nib. (People often ask!) They're not planned, beyond a few parallel pencil lines to hold the perspective and I have a theme in mind: a water world, a middle eastern world, allotments. Some of the later drawings such as Fields and Car Boot Sale involved more visual research. I cycled around the flatlands of the Somerset Levels looking for inspiration for Fields and photographed various local allotments for the Allotment drawing. For these I actually pencilled in some of the building in outline, but that's as far as the planning went. Basically, each drawing grew, upwards, organically.
The original A4 drawings of Carboot Sale and Fields are still available to buy and we have limited edition prints of Waterland, Bazaar, Great Wall, Carboot Sale, Boiler & Pipes and Fields available in the print section.