About The Speaker...
Hello, and thanks for showing an interest in me and my talks. I rather defy classification, having evolved from artist to author to scientist, and still being all three. Underlying it all there are birds and, most significantly, ‘The Unfeathered Bird’ – a large, illustrated book that’s occupied, shaped, and dictated an unreasonably high percentage of my adult life. Oh, nearly forgot to mention my other illustrated book – ‘Unnatural Selection’. Both of these were published by Princeton University Press. I’m now working on a bigger, better, and totally revised new version of ‘The Unfeathered Bird’ which will include more about bird evolution and their dinosaur origins.
Apart from my illustrated books, and my early career as a fine artist, I worked as curator of the bird collections at the British Natural History Museum. I’m a qualified bird ringer and have travelled to some exotic and far-flung places ringing, studying – and drawing – birds. I was a skilled intaglio printmaker, an authority on traditional print techniques in natural history art and books and I’ve written, edited, contributed to, and advised on, various books on bird art and its history.
I regularly speak for clubs and societies throughout the UK, including local U3A, WI, Wildlife Trusts, local natural history societies and RSPB groups. Bigger venues include the Natural History Museum, the Linnean Society, three US book tours, being keynote speaker for the Association of Medical Illustrators’ conference in Boston, and an invited speaker at a conference on comparative anatomy recently in Rome.
My undergraduate degree is in Fine Art, and I also have an MA in Natural History Illustration from the Royal College of Art, plus I’m currently studying for a PhD in palaeo-ornithology at the University of Cambridge.
About Their Talks...
In ‘From Art to Zoology: A Story of Evolution’ I discuss evolution and adaptations in birds, but also my personal evolution from artist to scientist.
Informative, inspirational, and often very funny, I’ll speak in particular about my long, long journey to create my magnum opus ‘The Unfeathered Bird’, a large-scale, beautiful book that includes around 400 anatomical drawings from skeletons prepared and reconstructed at home. It was first published after a monumental effort and much personal sacrifice twenty five years after it was conceived, and has led me in unexpected new directions…
Join me to hear about my aims and inspirations, share my insights about bird biology, and relate how my home was turned upside down as more and more specimens joined the queue.
Unnatural Selection: Evolution at the Hand of Man is a talk about the analogy between selective breeding under domestication, and evolution in nature. When Charles Darwin contemplated how best to introduce his controversial new theory of evolution to the general public, he chose to compare it with the selective breeding of domesticated animals. In my book, ‘Unnatural Selection’ whose publication in 2018 celebrated the 150th anniversary year of Darwin’s great work on domesticated animals ‘Variation under Domestication’, I explain why this analogy was more appropriate than even Darwin had realized.
Artificial selection is, in fact, more than just an analogy for natural selection – it’s the perfect example of evolution in action.
These are both author talks, beautifully illustrated with my own artwork in a Powerpoint presentation.
Art to Zoology is an inspirational, fun, and heavily autobiographical talk. Unnatural Selection is a bit more sciencey, but accessible to a non-specialist audience and still good fun.
Talks typically last just under an hour, but can be tailored to any length.
I welcome questions and friendly discussion with the audience after the talk and am happy to do book signings. Books, prints, postcards and other merchandise are offered for sale.
Local clubs and charities: £120 plus travel expenses at @35p/mile. Corporate, commercial, and after-dinner: variable c. £400 plus travel expenses.
Possible additional expenses to include bridge tolls, congestion zone charges, ULEZ, and overnight accommodation.
Am happy to consider clustering talks on consecutive days in one geographical area to spread costs.