The first step on my career in landscape was to study both art and biology at ‘A’ level, with thanks to an enlightened school that let me straddle the then clear divide between arts and science. I went on to study Landscape Architecture at Glos College of Art and Design, and then headed off to the private sector, working for Brian Clouston & Partners in Durham and Glasgow. My interest in land management led me to the MSc in Conservation and Ecology at UCL. A brief stint at the short-lived South Yorkshire County Council was followed, in 1979, by a more satisfactory period working for the Countryside Commission, in Nottingham and then London. This gave me a good understanding of the wider context of achieving landscape conservation.
In 1986 I moved to work as Landscape Conservation Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a much more ‘hands-on’ role. I lead a small team that dealt with advising on landscape conservation, trees and woodlands, habitat and species management, as well as setting up management agreements and surveys. This experience enabled me to write on ‘Conservation in National Parks’ in ‘Conservation in progress’ eds. Goldsmith and Warren. In 1988 my links with UCL led to a role in the multi-national WWF team that drew up a Management Plan for Prespa National Park, in the north west of Greece on the border with Albania and (now) Macedonia. At this time I joined the Board of LRG, contributing over a 10 year period.
Feeling a need to address the arts side of my existence, in 1991 I went off to do a degree in Fine Art at Bretton Hall, a thoroughly rejuvenating experience. There followed a period where I was involved in managing several art projects and organisations, working for the Art House and Public Arts amongst others, whilst maintaining a role within landscape. This included preparing ‘Integrated environmental objectives’ for the Humberhead Levels, my clients being the Countryside Agency, English Nature, English Heritage and the Environment Agency. For several years I was a tutor in the Landscape Department of Sheffield University. In the early 1990’s, Professor Carys Swanwick and I prepared the Countryside Character Area descriptions for the Yorkshire region.
From 1998 to 2008 I was a Secretary of State appointed Member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a fascinating and challenging experience. From 2006 up to November 2014 I was a senior landscape specialist with Natural England, working in the Yorkshire region. This involved me in advising widely on landscape issues in relation to land management and land use. It included a secondment to Pennine Prospects to prepare the bid for HLF Landscape Partnerships funding for the Watershed Landscape scheme, which was very successful, winning national and European awards. Latterly I lead on the programme to draft profiles for all the National Character Areas in the north of England. I also had a national role, developing landscape training across the organisation.
Currently, in addition to pursuing my own artwork, and assisting with a local art group and arts centre, I am a Trustee of the Yorkshire Dales Society, and take an active part in the work of its policy committee.