My original training was in Stage Design at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, NSW University, Sydney. I moved to the UK in 1973 and worked with InterAction Trust as a community arts worker before setting up Theatre Kit, a London touring Children’s Theatre Company with my wife Katherine Ukleja in 1975. During the following eight years we created 20 new productions which were performed in venues such as Battersea Arts Centre, The Roundhouse, Tricycle Theatre and Jackson’s Lane as well as schools and playgroups throughout the city. Theatre Kit pioneered Early Years Theatre creating four plays for Under 5s.
In 1983 we moved to Devon and I began to freelance as a playwright, theatre director and designer, writing for Theatr Powys, Common Knowledge Theatre Trust and Tyne-Wear TIE and designing and directing for Oily Cart. It was during this time that I began to play with clay. Katherine and I built a workshop at the end of our garden and, in 1985, we became Yerja Ceramics and Textiles. We exhibited Katherine’s painted textiles and my tableware for the first time at Chelsea Crafts Fair in 1987 and the orders that followed prompted a move to larger premises. There followed thirteen years of making during which we sold our work through shops, galleries and ceramic markets in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Portugal and USA. Although most of my time was taken up with ceramics, each year I took time out to write or direct an Early Years play for Northern Stage.
In 2000 I became co-artistic director of Monster Productions (Newcastle) and ceramics had to take a back seat while I concentrated on running this new theatre company, writing and directing. I wrote six new plays for Monster and the company also mounted new productions of the seven plays I had written for Northern Stage.
2009-2015 were taken up with novel writing, songwriting with school groups and saw the publications of Devil’s Rock and Forest of Lies.
In 2015 I returned to ceramics by beginning a part-time MA in Ceramic Design at Bath School of Art and Design. The course finished in January 2018. My Masters Project was the creation of the two-metre high outdoor sculpture, Gateway of Dreams.
Now I have a new novel in the making and, to bring the two sides of my creative life together, I am exploring the use of clay in performance.