Born in Colchester in 1973, I lived in Harwich for the first few months of my life, before moving to the Highlands and then the North East of Scotland. After leaving school at 16 with no real qualifications, I had a brief spell on a technical apprenticeship, before working a few jobs in retail and hospitality.

As a child, I was always drawing and I had a Higher Grade qualification in Art, so I took a foundation course at Aberdeen College in 1991. I was not in the right place mentally and attended only very patchily, producing a portfolio that reflected this. It got me onto the reserve list for Gray’s School of Art, but I didn’t manage to secure a place. At the time I was very disappointed in myself, but in hindsight I think I would have struggled at art school at that point in my life.

Somewhat adrift, I took a job as a pizza chef, which is one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had, perhaps coloured by the fact that it was around this time I met my partner Esther, who’d come to Aberdeen from Sussex.

In 1993, Aberdeen University ran what was then a unique course in the UK, where people without academic qualifications could take a ten week summer school to gain admission onto an undergraduate degree programme. I completed the access course, followed by a joint MA in English Literature and Philosophy and was subsequently awarded a scholarship to complete a PhD in the Philosophy of Art at the University of Leeds. The summer school was life-changing for me and my time at university exposed me to a world of intellectual and artistic influences that I had no idea existed. I continued drawing and painting throughout this time and in the summers would busk by making chalk drawings on the pavements – on a good day almost covering the cost of materials.

After a number of temporary teaching roles in the philosophy departments of Leeds, Nottingham and York universities, in 2002, with a young family to support and mounting debts from doing the weekly shop on credit card, I decided to leave academia in search of more secure work. Initially, I worked in a warehouse in Castleford, before taking a temp job with the DWP and subsequently a permanent job with the NHS, where I went on to work for almost twenty years. I worked with some very fine people and my salary helped us clear debts and raise our family, but it was a miserable time for me as far as my working life was concerned. I painted as much as I could, but felt increasingly as though I was living someone else’s life. I don’t regret taking the job as there was no alternative, but I was deeply unhappy.

I gradually began to gain confidence in my painting and was accepted for some open exhibitions which led to a number of solo and group exhibitions. Later with the emergence of Instagram, I began to connect with artists and critics and the positive responses to my work again increased my self belief.

In January 2023, the opportunity came to take voluntary redundancy, which I did and since April 2023 I now paint full-time from my home studio in the Burley area of Leeds.


1998-2002: PhD, Philosophy of Art, University of Leeds, UK

1997-98: MLitt, Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, UK

1993-97: MA(Hons) English Literature and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, UK

1993 University of Aberdeen Summer School Degree Access Course, UK

1991: Art Portfolio Foundation Course, Aberdeen College, UK

Recent and Upcoming Exhibitions:

2023: Institute for Palestine Studies Solidarity Exhibition, IPS Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon

2023: Leeds Summer Group Show, Leeds Playhouse

2022: Mercer Open, Mercer Gallery, Harrogate, UK

2022: Fronteer Open, Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield, UK

2022: CHROMA, Group Exhibition, Cole’s Gallery, Leeds, UK

2022: Plans A to D, Micro Exhibition, Bloc Projects, Sheffield, UK

2022: Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, Leeds, UK – solo exhibition

2022: Ferens Art Gallery Open Exhibition, Hull, UK


Gavin’s work is held in private collections in the UK, USA and Australia


Book Review: The Metaphysics of Beauty, Nick Zangwill, Mind 113 (449):221-226 (2004)

Article: ‘Depiction unexplained: Peacocke and Hopkins on pictorial representation’, British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (3):279-288 (2003)