Born in Liverpool and like many other young lads, Neil dreamed of being a professional footballer and spent most of his time on the local football pitch - his back street. Little did he know then that decades later, those same streets would provide the inspiration for his first full art collection HOPE STREET - a beautiful and nostalgic body of work based on memories of his own childhood.
Back then, Neil loved cartoons and says he "lived inside the Beano". He was so inspired by these cartoons and comics that he even used to tape his own drawings onto the glass on the front of his parents TV so that they were lit up and seemingly brought to life by the flickering screen - just like a real cartoon.
He recalls "I was always drawing or making things out of scraps of rubbish. My dad noticed I had a flair for art, and he'd sit and draw with me for hours. My Dad was the greatest inspiration in my life."
Neil studied at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys which is now a centre for creative excellence and is owned by fellow Liverpudlian Sir Paul McCartney.
Growing up in Liverpool and surrounded by 'Beatlemania', Neil was naturally mad about music. Pocket money was in short supply, so he bought a second hand guitar which didn't have any strings. He couldn't afford to buy any so he drew strings onto the guitar and proceeded to learn to play without actual strings until he was able to buy some!
On leaving school when his guitar playing was good enough, he formed a band called AC/DC! Unfortunately, the name was already taken by an older band who came over from Australia, so he and his mates changed their band name to Marseille. However, not everybody was happy about Neil's decision to become a musician - when he applied for a place at Liverpool Art College, the principal told him that he had to choose between a career in art or a career in music, he wasn't allowed to do both. Ironically, he chose the band - and never looked back!
In 1977 Marseille won the first ever 'Battle of the Bands' competition, were signed by Mountain Records and went on to record a series of singles and albums. Marseille toured extensively for several years around Europe and became the first of the new wave of British Heavy Metal bands to break into the USA, playing to 20,000 people every night in the big stadiums. Sadly, in the early 1980's, their record company collapsed and forced Marseille to reluctantly split up. Neil suddenly found himself torn from the life of a rock star and cast back into the dole queue in Liverpool. He believed his music career was over but fast forward to 2010 and the story of Neil's band had a happy ending. He reformed the original Marseille and recorded and released a new album - appropriately called Unfinished Business.
Having surpassed his lifelong ambition to create a cartoon character for Disney when the company acquired the rights to his Art Attack format, he now spends most of his time painting and exhibiting his own art and photography. Meanwhile, Neil's twenty series of Art Attack continue to air on television worldwide from Canada to Australia, China to South and Central America and all over Europe.
Over the years a number of artists have greatly influenced Neil’s art including the impressionists and post-impressionists, particularly Toulouse Lautrec. Of the more contemporary artists, Neil greatly admires Norman Rockwell, Jack Vettriano, and Andre Kohn. Neil believes that Walt Disney was the greatest ideas man that ever lived and was honoured to be asked to design an attraction for the Disneyland theme park in Paris.
Throughout Neil's career, his work has received many awards, accolades, and endorsements including those from Yoko Ono and Norman Rockwell's niece Jessica - herself an acclaimed American artist. Perhaps most notably though Her Majesty The Queen - whose portrait he created out half a million pounds of real money - described his work as 'ingenious'.
Neil is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust for Children and the Arts and Portfolio Fine Art and The Acorn Gallery, Pocklington are delighted to represent this irrepressible and multi-talented artist.