Diz Wallis disliked school. The feeling was mutual. She spent much of her time in disgrace in her dilapidated greenhouse at the end of the garden, concocting noxious potions and drawing peculiar things. As demonstrated by the title of her early work ‘What Strange People Wait for the Tram’, she had a precocious affinity for street life and its characters.
During her formative years of ‘greenhouse meditations’ she also developed her passion for the ingenious workings of nature; a passion she shared with her father, the late Wing Commander Ken Wallis. He was a brilliant and instinctive aviator and inventor, and it was the exquisite skill he demonstrated in creating the world’s smallest firing pistols which would inspire Diz to work in such detail.
Diz and her mother, Peggy, who was also an artist, would often escape together on ‘junkets’. These adventures took them all over Sussex and involved visits to junk shops, tea rooms and other places of interest. A particular favourite was Walter Potter’s wonderful museum at Bramber. It housed a unique collection of stuffed animals in glass cases, depicting scenes such as card playing squirrels and a rats’ gambling den. This was a most absorbing world which had a lasting effect on her work.
Diz’s artistic interests lead her to The Central School of Art and Design in 1970’s. She has pursued a successful career in advertising and book illustration.
After living for many years in Cambridge, Diz has returned to Sussex and is enjoying growing old. Far from fading into obscurity, she feels that her age has released her from society’s expectations. As she puts it:
In the distance, I hear a voice say, “You’re just a very naughty little girl.” And I say, “No, I’m just a very, naughty old woman.” I have come of age – at last.