My Story

Ancestry

My maternal great grandfather Ramsay MacDonald was born in Lossiemouth, a fishing village in the north of Scotland. He overcame huge social prejudice as the illegitimate son of a fisher woman to eventually live in London, where he joined the newly formed Labour Party. A charismatic speaker he became the first socialist Prime Minister of Britain in 1924. My mother recollected how he had to borrow furniture for 10 Downing Street, as he had none.

My paternal grandfather was one of the first osteopaths in Britain, he was a leading light in the creation of the Tolstoyan ‘Whiteway Colony’ which still exists.

My father was editor of Tribune, the weekly socialist newspaper, before working for Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock. My mother was an acclaimed actress and Labour party activist.

My life

I was born in 1956 in Barnet. I have a son and daughter, as well as a grandson.
I failed academically and on leaving school found myself selling drugs, living in a squat.
Through remarkable circumstances I then worked and lived in a children's home in Germany  for three years, and my life was transformed.
I was sacked and studied Fine Art ‘the no hope, no job option’ in Cardiff.

Me, performing as Arwyn The Alchemist, The Mabinogion, Cardiff Castle 1980

On leaving college in 1981, I set up Pioneers Art Group with a group of friends, an artist led co-operative of weirdos and misfits. With no great expectations.

Twenty five years later I closed down the company, having been one of the leading community arts organisations in Wales and the UK.

Working in concrete, clay, mosaics, glass, paint, fresco, video, and many other creative mediums

Working with tens of thousands of people. From Infants schools to OAPs. From community centres to prisons.

Enabling people to tell their stories, especially those  living in areas of high social need.

Providing employment for 60 people generating over £8 million, as an artist-led business. We were all shocked, never having expected to last more than a few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having been so productive, I was offered an Honour from the Queen for the work. I turned it down.
But I didn't turn down being made an Honorary Professor at Staffordshire University.
And a Visiting Professor at Warsaw University in Poland.


For the last twelve years I have worked with Rhys Hughes and Katja Stiller to develop training programmes for health and social care professionals to incorporate creativity into their client’s care plans. These have been underpinned by direct innovative projects using creativity to enable clients to transform their lives for the better. 


My relationship to masculinity

I didn’t much question the misogynistic culture in the UK, until the advent of feminism and my working in the first battered wives home. 

I was also transformed by marrying, having two children and becoming the provider.

I attended the first all male Community Building Process in Milton Keynes and realised I could share deeply with men.

I was taught and practiced the Lakota tribe of Northern America ceremonies of vision quest and sweat lodge. 

I made a documentary film recording the male circumcision ritual of the semi nomadic Samburu tribe of northern Kenya.

I wrote a trilogy of books about male rites of passage.

I gave talks, wrote articles, wrote a blog for Huffington Post. 

I ran workshops, set up training programmes about rites of passage, masculinity and eldership.

I made films, did storytelling and stand-up comedy exploring issues of masculinity.

Influences
My children
AS Neil and his school, Summerhill.
Erin Pizzey, and the first battered wife centre.
Martin Prechtel, a shaman from Guatemala.
Carl Rogers, and the person centred approach.
Robert Bly and Sam Keen, in their exploration of masculinity.
Alfred Russell Wallace, and his vital contribution to evolutionary theory.
Werner Herzog, and his risk taking beliefs.

A quote (of which I am proud) from a talk I gave in 2017
'Forget your innocent inner child, deal with your fat ugly inner toad first...'