Firstly a huge thank you to Dan for designing the Steve Tolley Bonsai Logo.
Dan was born in Hong Kong in 1938 – the last of thirteen children – he has six brothers and six sisters, four children (one deceased) 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 40 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 about 17 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 recently 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” 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). 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 Association of British Bonsai Artists, The Bristol Bonsai Society, and The Classical Bonsai Circle. He has created several national Bonsai events such as “The Joy of Bonsai” and “Bonsai UK Exhibition”, (BUKEX).
In recent years, he has extended his interests to making handcrafted stoneware pots for bonsai 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 endeavors include painting in oils.
He finds that sharing his talents, knowledge and experience with others is the most fulfilling and rewarding part of his life. In fact, “Life is so good, there is no time left to die”.