I think 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 do 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 grounding in the wider context of achieving landscape conservation.
In 1986 I moved to work for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a much more ‘hands-on’ role. There, I was Conservation Officer, leading 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. It was at this point that 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, 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. Working with Professor Carys Swanwick, we prepared the Countryside Character Area descriptions for the Yorkshire region. I also enjoyed an opportunity to work with UCL and WWF on a management plan for Prespa National Park in Greece.
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. 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 on the Council of CNP, the policy committee of the Yorkshire Dales Society, and am working with Pennine Prospects, the regeneration company for the South Pennines.