Dan was born in Hong Kong in 1938 – the last of thirteen children – he has six brothers and six sisters, four children of his own and five grandchildren.
Dan first acquired an interest in bonsai in 1969. He has never had any formal training in bonsai and was essentially self taught, but he was fortunate in having been trained and qualified in the first instance, as an art teacher, and, later in graphic design with Applied Photography being his main subject, he was self-taught in this too. He was a Senior Lecturer at the Bristol Polytechnic (now the University of the West of England) and finally graduated to Head of the Photographic Department. It is the last 50 years of involvement with various aspects of the visual arts that have helped him enormously with bonsai and it is essentially this background he relies on when creating his miniature trees. Dan took early retirement from his Lecturing Post with the Polytechnic almost 30 years ago and set up an educational Service in Bonsai involving: demos, workshops, master classes, lectures, residential courses etc.
Dan has, for over 25 years, served as a judge for Bonsai at the Chelsea Flower Show and numerous other Royal Horticultural Society shows; he has received three Awards for photographs of bonsai trees exhibited at the International Bonsai and Suiseki Exhibition, Osaka, Japan, including the major Award for 1989 and has also received many other International awards for bonsai. Dan was made a Member of the British Bonsai Roll of Honour (by FoBBS) for contributions to the furtherance of Bonsai within Britain and he was honoured in 2006 by the Association of British Bonsai Artists (ABBA) with their “Most Prestigious Award”, also, for his contribution to British Bonsai. He has been a guest bonsai demonstrator at numerous Bonsai Conventions in the U.K., most of the European countries, and in America on numerous occasions. Dan has conducted over 500 different programmes.
Dan had his first book on bonsai, ‘THE BONSAI BOOK’, published in 1989 by Ebury Press (it has since been re-printed several times and in several languages). He is currently working on a second book that will deal mostly with aspects of the aesthetics and philosophy of contemporary bonsai practice in the Western World and offering an alternative approach from the traditional methods to the subject. It will be a very visual book and will be very different from any other book on bonsai.
Dan was Founder of the The Bristol Bonsai Society in 1975, and The Classical Bonsai Circle (27 years next April). He also founded the Association of British Bonsai Artists (with great encouragement and a push from his very good friend Steve Tolley who said; stop talking about the idea and just get on with it….. thanks Steve). He has created several national Bonsai events such as “The Joy of Bonsai” and “Bonsai UK Exhibition” (BUKEX). Dan was also actively engaged in the formative years of FoBBS.
Dan’s latest ‘brainchild’ (2011) was coming up with the idea of creating an exhibition to showcase the various items that are frequently exhibited as ‘companions’ to bonsai in formal displays. He invited Robin Jehan, John Trott, Mark and Ritta Cooper and his wife Cecilia to join him in forming a working team to kick-start the concept — and so the “Magical Bonsai Accents” exhibition was created. Its first exhibition will be on 27th May, 2012
In recent years, he has extended his interests to making handcrafted stoneware pots for bonsai (mostly ‘coiled’) with his wife, Cecilia. They market these pots under the business name of ‘Esoteric Pots’ with a guarantee that no two pots will be the same. His latest endeavours include painting in oils.
Over the past 40 years Dan has met a huge number of ‘bonsai’ people and made a great many friends — it is to these friends that he owes so much and to whom he is eternally grateful , for without their help and support over the years he doubts if he would ever have made it as far as he has in bonsai. To all of you he says: a big thank you. And none of you is forgotten.