Biography & Places
I was brought up surrounded by art and artists. My main childhood home was in rural England, in the tiny hamlet of Cleeton St Mary in the Clee Hills, close to the historic town of Ludlow.
But my mother had strong connections with the South of France, and so I also spent the long hot summers of the 1960’s and 1970’s at the family home in St Jeannet, a little medieval village not far from Nice that looks out over the Riviera.
In England our home was stuffed with my mother’s beloved Regency furniture, old prints, antique embroidery and collections of porcelain, glass, and more. In France I found myself in an entirely different world. My mother was close friends with the French poet, playwright, painter, philosopher, composer, writer and Dadaist Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes. Tales of Dadaism, Surrealism and l’Art Brut informed my life in St Jeannet, and as a young child Max Ernst and Jacques Prevert, amongst others, were part of my world.
I got a scholarship to study English Literature at St John’s College, Cambridge before switching to take the university’s History of Art course. Passionate about art, culture and history, I joined the BBC and worked my way through the ranks there to become the corporation’s Creative Director of Arts before becoming its Head of Arts Commissioning in 2002. In 2005 I left the BBC to become a writer.