Doug was born in Bristol in 1972. The third of four children, his upbringing was
a lively affair dominated by improvised football and cricket matches in the
street, a whole menagerie of noisy pets, and playing rugby on a Sunday and
watching his dad play on a Saturday. Family holidays in St Ives, now such a
centre of artistic excellence, were spent playing on the beach and laying
into Cornish pasties without a thought of what the future might bring. But
running parallel to this seemingly carefree existence were two aspects of
Doug's life that played a large part in forming his early character.
The first of these was his warm relationship with his older sister Emily. Emily
was disabled and inevitably much of the family's day-to-day life revolved
around her. Doug recalls mixing with groups of disabled children at various
functions, and being constantly amazed and impressed by the ability
of the human spirit to rise above adverse circumstances. As he got older his
respect for Emily continued to increase, and so did his sense of gratitude at
his own good fortune.
The second influential element was of course school. Doug
excelled in all art-related subjects from an early age but
found the more traditional academic lessons less enjoyable.
This dichotomy is illustrated in his school reports, where
time and again it is commented on. Even within the art
department he encountered tension between those teachers
who favoured the conventional methods of painting from life
and those who encouraged a more creative, individualistic
approach. He realised that to make anything of his life he
would have to pursue some form of artistic career, but whenever
he mentioned this he received only discouraging words from
careers advisers, including "there is no such thing as 'being an artist' in this day and
age - it's just a hobby".