THE MAKING OF A FOOL
I was born in London in 1963. My early years were heavily influenced by being diagnosed with Leukaemia at 4 years old. It was the early days of childhood cancer treatment and I spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals receiving lots of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy and was all clear by 11. Ithink of this as a positive education. I was acutely aware very early in life that existence was both unfair and of an indeterminate length. I resolved to not waste it and to live my own dreams and to control where ever possible how I used this brief visit. It all felt Absurd.
In the early `80’s I started to visit the Albion Fairs and I remember being very influenced by the Theatre Company Incubus as goblins (the buffoon). I also met members of the ‘so called’ Peace Convoy around this time and was fascinated by this alternative existence. I went to Stonehenge Festival in 1982 and found this new way of life seemed to pull at me.
Later that year, on my way to street trade some jewellry, I swapped my 3 front teeth by way of a motorbike accident (apparently not my fault) for a lump of cash compensation, £1300. I was disillusioned with my UK life as Thatcher took control. I spun a globe and pointed at Kenya and set off across land.
In the next couple of years, I slept outside a lot. I learnt a lot about cultural difference, exploitation, and the essential beauty at the heart of a human. War and insurrection barred my plans in many countries. I walked through the beginning of the war in Sudan. As things got more violent, I detoured into the Central African Republic and the aftermath of Bokassa’s oppression: where I was robbed of my passport. I entered Cameroon in April of 1984 at the start of a coup in which I was arrested as a mercenary at the end of an AK47. Short on funds and acting on advice and information from young African friends who had their own dreams of getting to Europe: I travelled to Bioko (an island belonging to Equatorial Guinea) with a Nigerian smuggler in a handmade canoe. I hoped to find work on a Spanish boat. I ended up in a country that has one of the worst human rights records on the planet watching the last Spanish boat before the rainy season sail away. Through naivety, luck, the generosity of humans and no wish for control I made it back to the UK in 1985.
I knew I didn’t want to be a tourist ever again. I wanted to learn a very practical skill like fixing broken trucks or radios. I also wanted to learn a way of contributing in a non-financial sense; as a way to repay the essential human kindness.
Whilst contemplating this I made a set of masks from recycled and found objects, initially to sell with my jewellry. I liked them too much and set about learning to bring them to life. Thus, my relationship between sculpture and performance was born.
Avidly reading ‘Impro’ by Keith Johnstone I attended a ‘school for fools’ arranged by Franki Anderson. This introduction to the concept of the ‘Fool’ changed my life again. Through her I was able to access the City Lit an adult education institution in Covent Garden London funded by the Amazing now defunct Greater London Council. Here I attended, for free, some basic evening classes in performance for 3 months and met the incredible Sarah Wright of the Little Angel Puppet Theatre.
As fortune would have it, I squatted on Brougham road in London Hackney E8 over this period. It had a lot of travellers parked on the street including members of the Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe. This community helped me on my way towards ‘Busking’ the streets of Europe, Festivals and fixing trucks. I first encountered members of the Mutoid Waste in this period also… I would meet them again… ”