When did you join the Board of Tees Valley Arts?
What interests and excites you about Tees Valley Arts?
That’s easy. It’s the energy, passion and dedication of the TVA team, when you’ve got the right people you really can accomplish anything.
What do you love about Teesside?
A brutal postmodern industrial wasteland. Then you lift your eyes and you can see the beautiful coastline and the Cleveland Hills.
When you were a child what did you want to be?
A disc jockey.
What is your earliest memory
Probably aged 3 or 4.
My grandad sitting me on his knee and telling me to pull the chain, when I did he would open his knees and I would collapse on the floor laughing.
I must have pulled the chain a million times!
What is your most treasured possession?
My diaries. I kept a diary from the age of 16 up to about 25.
One of my earliest is an inter-railing trip around Europe with four mates. We woke each day with a pittance to spend and no idea where we would pitch our tent that night. We shared writing duties so the diary has four very different and hilarious perspectives. Each day was an adventure.
What is the worst job you’ve ever done?
My worst job was changing room assistant at Burtons in Middlesbrough: Shoplifters, bad smells and Sade’s Smooth Operator album on an eternal loop. Purgatory!
What has been your biggest disappointment in life?
Temenos – sorry Anish but really!! It’s a waste of chicken wire.
Who is your favourite artist (any artform)?
Currently my favourite artist is Kennard Phillips.
He’s very political so not for everyone’s taste!
When I was in my teens I used to get a bus from Linthorpe village (opposite Hintons) to London embankment for CND and anti-racism demonstrations. Kennard produced a lot of the artwork at the rallies so he is very nostalgic for me. He was also a pioneer of political art, perhaps he is Banksy’s father! I have one of Kennard’s prints called “Bliar” which is a caricature of Tony Blairs’ bombing of Iraq. Can you believe that my wife won’t let me hang it in our living room!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself
This straightforward advice was given to me by my boss, Olivia Grant OBE DL, when I worked at the Tyne & Wear Learning and Skills Council.
If more people followed this advice the world would definitely be a better place.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
The artist Ai Weiwei.
I admire Ai for standing up against human right abuses all over the world.
It takes a lot of guts to openly criticise the Chinese government and Ai has been beaten up and imprisoned for his Art.
Ai never gives up. He has just completed a long period travelling with migrants across Europe, living in the camps and sharing his experiences.
If resources were no object, what project or activity would you most like to see Tees Valley Arts undertake?
I love Teesside and I want to see it reach its full potential.
For many Teessiders,
There are opportunities for education, training and personal growth for many Teessiders but not all. Teesside’s harsh economic and social environment means that some people and communities struggle to get on or reach their potential.
This is the space where Tees Valley Arts works best, especially where traditional support mechanisms have either been cut or are irrelevant.
If resources were no object I would simply turn the dial up on our programmes so that everyone on Teesside has an opportunity to better themselves and contribute to the success of their region.