I have worked for much of my life as a sculptor. I exhibited widely, undertook commissions, won awards and became known as a sculptor. But in 1992 I became ill and was diagnosed with ME, and was unable to work at all. When I recovered enough to begin a little work, I started to learn to paint.
I hadn’t painted since I was a child. I started small, and for very brief periods, with Gouache paint. After a while I moved, excitingly, on to oils. But this was very tiring and I could only paint a very little at a time and oil painting was a whole new huge ball game.
Years later, one of my first large oil paintings was a painting of a tiger; it was of Blake’s vision of the tiger and inspired by his poem Tyger. The painting was sold at London Zoo, with the help of David Attenborough, and I managed to raise my first few thousand pounds for tigers, and so began my mission to raise money for my beloved big cats in the wild.
The Big Cat I have mostly supported has been the Amur Leopard. It is the most endangered wild cat in the world, with around fifty animals in Eastern Russia and a mere ten in North West China. There are many more Amur Leopards in Zoos, and there is a movement to breed, carefully and selectively, from Zoo animals for re-introduction back into the wild.
The Amur Leopard is exquisitely beautiful, but it is hunted for its ravishing thick fur. Destruction of habitat is its biggest threat, but there are excellent conservation measures being undertaken to save this lovely creature, and a future for it is my main objective in raising money through the selling of my paintings of Big Cats.
The Amur Tiger, who shares territory with the Amur Leopard, and the Snow Leopard are the two other principal species of cat that I support.
A major proportion of money raised from the sale of all my Big Cat paintings and drawings goes towards the vital goal to save the very Crown Jewels of our beloved planet.
This year, deep in the excitement of actually playing music again, I wanted to further express this passion in visual terms; to create a link. So I have begun this series of musicians performing. There are moments, during a performance of great music, when the performing artist is opened up emotionally, abandoned and lost in the music. We are privileged to witness these intimate moments - No other art form subjects a human being to such public nakedness. I am fascinated and drawn to the extreme moments of being. I identify with what they feel and am also lifted out of myself. In this new work I am trying to capture these peaks of expression, as before I have tried to capture the nobility and power of the horse or the speed of the cheetah at full stretch.
Penny has exhibited widely in group and solo shows, amongst which galleries are featured the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy summer exhibitions, the Leicester Galleries, Ackermans of Old Bond Street, Piccadilly, the Tryon Gallery, Lamp of Lothian Trust, Haddington, East Lothian, (shared with the painter Brenda Lenaghan) and the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.She has held solo exhibitions in a number of galleries, including Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, (sculpture) Edinburgh Central Library – an Edinburgh Festival retrospective exhibition of her sculpture, a solo exhibition of horse bronzes in Adelaide, Australia. Old Gala House, Galashiels, Scottish Borders. (painting and sculpture)
Last year saw a pause in my work on cats and I spent the year paintings horses. I ended the year with some drawings of horses
MAJOR COMMISSIONS INCLUDE:
Life size otter, cast in bronze; a Memorial to Gavin Maxwell for Galloway Wildlife Trust
Life size otter, cast in bronze, for the Forestry commission.
Welded steel wall sculpture for Albion Steel Works, Edinburgh.
Welded steel sculpture for the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford.
Sculpture in welded steel and bronze, for the gardens of The Earl Haig, Bemersyde, Melrose, Scottish Borders.
Life size roe deer, in cast bronze, for Sir Patrick McCall of Inverhay, Kirkcudbrightshire