Born 1944 in Masterton, grew up at Eastbourne on Wellington harbour. Attended Elam Art School (Auckland) graduating with an Honours Diploma in painting. 1968 awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago University where experiments with synthetic media (resins) began. Following a couple of years teaching art at a College of Further Education in England, embarked on a Master of Fine Arts programme at San Francisco Art Institute specialising in plastics. It was during this time that Derek developed a direction in kinetic sculpture – making multiples that would sustain him and his family in San Francisco after the completion of the masters degree.