I grew up on the Canadian prairies moving from town to town every few years because my father was a railway man. From an early age I was interested in archaeology and Egyptology, but in the end went into Sinology (the academic study of China). I received my B.A. and M.A. degrees in Far Eastern Studies at the University of Saskatchewan and started a Doctorate of Philosophy at Oxford University in 1976. My academic pursuits were interrupted when I was awarded an exchange scholarship to China in 1977. There I spent three years studying and researching aspects of Chinese archaeology at the University of Nanjing. Despite being “detained” by Chinese police on several occasions, I was still selected as a model student by the professors at Nanjing University in 1979. In 1980 I worked at the Far Eastern Department of the Royal Ontario Museum and in 1981, became Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria until the present.
I have lectured at numerous galleries, museum and universities throughout Canada and the US on the arts of Asia. I have travelled to Asia at least once a year for more than 35 years, often lecturing on private jet tours and for excursions organized by National Geographic. I have written more than 70 exhibition catalogues and over 55 articles. I have organized around 200 exhibitions on Asian art at the AGGV, several of which have travelled throughout Canada and the US. In 2008, I received the Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Museums Association.