'I have always painted, from the time I can first remember holding a
pencil and brush. It has always been a part of my life not always
encouraged but always there. I was born in the UK into the suburban
environment of Liverpool when Liverpool was well past its greatness
but still boasted of many cultural heritages from its incredible Victorian
architecture seen at the St. Georges Hall and Walker Art Gallery to its
shorefront outlined by the famous Liver Buildings and Pierhead. My
family was linked strongly to a maritime tradition with my father a marine
engineer and grandfather and uncles also in the merchant navy or
related fields. At the age of 18 months, my mother, my twin brother and
my sister and I set sail for Nigeria to join my father who had been working
there for the last few years. I heard later that it was a wild adventure.
After 13 days at sea we arrived in a tropical thunderstorm with floods and
no electricity. Knowing my mother, it scarcely seems possible that she
would have undertaken such a voyage by herself with three young
children in tow. But there we were in a place that became magical and
home, on and off for the best part of my childhood. I lived a life of
considerable freedoms and adventures, collecting insects and reptiles,
going off for long walks with my brother. We ventured down to the beach
which was only a matter of yards away and I remember the waves crashing
on the shore seeming to be the height of tall buildings. From an artistic point of view I was always drawing and not always on paper. I have a distinct memory of drawing on the front walls of our white colonial house - dogs and cats I think. Anyway it would not come off. I loved the heat and the daily rainfall and the memories of this have stayed vividly in my mind over many years.
But then it was back to foggy Liverpool with the smell of coal being burned in fireplaces. They say everyplace has a familiar smell and that was the one I recognised as home in England. Childhood there was full of more adventures - bicycle rides to woods and canals; Beatles songs constantly playing in our heads and on the radio and painting - it was my horse phase. I still collected invertebrates for my mini zoo that I kept under my bed. I won a couple of local competions for artwork and at high school thought seriously about going on to Art School much to my parents worry and chagrin. However it was not to be and after much deliberation and stomping of feet off I went to the University of Wales to study Zoology. Such are the twists and turns of life. Five years later I emerged with a Master's degree and no idea what to do with it or my life. I floated around in London and finally decided that Biology was my calling and set off for new climes in Canada for more graduate studies. Two years into a PhD the opportunity arose to travel to Brazil. Hardly a second thought and I was ready with bags packed and on my way. It was the start of a twenty year relationship with what is the real Brazil - no fancy beaches and clubs for me. I lived in a small interior frontier town famous for gunfights and semi precious stones. Most people knew it as a stop off from Rio to the Northeast of Brazil. Memories of Nigeria prepared me for the heat and the poverty, but not for wonderful friends that I would make who took me into their hearts.Their I taught Biology at the local University and also developed my creative side by designing and manufacturing a clothing lines that sold in Brazil, Canada and London at Fortnum and Masons. The love hate relationship with Valadares saw ups and downs in the economy, in our financial situation and in the security we felt living there. It was a time of great contrasts and coloured by endless hot, sunny days and tropical plants and vegetation. Leaving after twenty years left a hole that will probably never be filled.
So it was back to Canada with a brief interlude in England. Back to a more normal life. My century farmhouse in the Oro Medonte brings me an amazing link with the past - a past that is sometimes hard to find in a new country like Canada. The rolling hills are a constant reminder of my home country but with a slightly different edge. The sharp contrasts of the seasons leave one almost breathless and the long, long winters make spring and summer colours more and more vibrant. The winters hide their colours, letting us only glimpse the more subtle hues but that also wake us with surprise on a crisp winter day in February with strong splashes of vibrant colour. The changing seasons make each one seem like a new experience and the newly discovered details of the scenery appear yearly, as if never seen before. I have tried to capture some of these changes in my paintings and tried to reproduce the atmosphere of the area with images that are at times abstract and at times full of realism. This combination of styles has inspired and helped me represent some of the essence of the natural beauty of the area.'
Charlotte has been living in Oro Medone for the last 8 years with her husband Mark and two children, Christopher and Hannah, and a menagerie of small pets.