Visit Art in the Garden in Windsor Great Park
PUBLISHED: 12:38 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:00 09 September 2020
From a cow shed to Savill Garden, Newbury sculptor Diana Pattenden shares her journey with us, and gives us the lowdown on this autumn exhibition
Tell me about where you live in Berkshire
I grew up in Newbury and went to Shaw House School and then St Bartholemew’s. I am married to a Newbury man, Erik Pattenden, and we have two daughters and a son. Oh, and don’t forget the dog and the horses, the hens, the guinea pig and the fish!
What do you love about the Royal county?
There is a great deal of opportunity and the landscape is beautiful. As a child, I loved cycling in the country lanes and paddling in the shallows of the River Lamborn. I loved country walks and collecting conkers. I have travelled quite a bit, discovering Art abroad as part of my education, but I returned to Newbury, my hometown, where my heart lies and my family lives.
Favourite local discoveries?
There are too many to mention but I do love to get up a hill and see a view and there is a spectacular one at Donnington Castle and also at Combe Gibbet.
Tell us about your career up to now
I did an Art Foundation course at Winchester College of Art then a degree in Fine Art (Sculpture) at Cheltenham College of Art. I have always been creative with playdough and plasticine and, of course, clay. Getting some air-dry clay for Christmas as a child was the starting point. Since then, and since graduating, I have been introduced to foundry bronze and the foundry I use to cast my work is Talos Art Foundry, near Andover.
My career started in a cow shed for a studio, where I created my cows that were cast into bronze. When I sold my first bronze cow in a local exhibition, I was over the moon.
I have exhibited in many local venues: the Watermill Theatre Garden, Gardner & Leader Solicitors, Penningtons Solicitors, Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury Hospital, then at the Royal County Agricultural Show in the Craft Tent and Pineapple Palace, Thatcham, where I had a studio for six years.
My new studio in my garden at Howard Road, Newbury, is where I work, exhibit and run courses.
Art in the Garden will give visitors the opportunity to enjoy a diverse range of sculptures at the Savill Garden, strategically positioned throughout the gardens and will include 66 pieces by 42 artists, with all works for sale. Styles of sculptures will range from modern abstract to more classical styles, from fired earth, metal, glass, stone, wood and bronze - with each piece accompanied by the artist’s statement.
Tell us about your involvement in the Art in the Garden exhibition and what this means to you
You must visit - the autumn colours at Windsor Great Park are amazing. I’m so pleased to be a part of the Surrey Sculture Society, who is putting on this exhibition. They bring sculptors together to put on exhibitions in prestigious places. Being an artist can be quite lonely, so being a part of the society helps and there’s so much creative energy in the group.
I am exhibiting two pieces - Nature III, which is a sculpture of large leaves in resin, with buds surging up in growth, defying gravity, and a new leaf coming through. It depicts time and nature. I’m really interested in tropical leaves and structure and strength. Actually, I love visiting the Living Rainforest in Newbury!
My other piece is a ceramic called Milk Drops. A huge drop has fallen from the sky, caught in time. I can’t wait to see the works in position in the Savill Garden and hope people like them.
Favourite pieces in your portfolio?
The backbone of my work is bronze sculptures of animals. I’ve built up quite a portfolio of cows, donkeys, antelopes and elephants. One of my most recent works is of an oryx after watching one of David Attenborough’s shows. I love casting in metal; it lasts forever, and with bronze you get a deep and wonderful colour.
Tell us about your hand casting, classes and parties
I teach ceramics and we have lots of fun. Before the coronavirus hit, I had five classes a week and 30 students. I have two potter’s wheels and right now, my students seem to be interested in creating animals. That suits me, as I love animals and anatomy. If they come to me and say they want to make an otter, I say: “Ok, let’s make an otter.” I want them to know that anything is impossible.
Becoming a professional artist is not an easy path to choose; you have to hone your skills to a very high level of expertise through education and just doing it. Then you have to create a business where you pursue exhibition opportunities and exposure to gain recognition and ultimately, sales and commissions. But I want to encourage young people to see art as a career; to keep that element of play and imagination alive.
I also offer a hand-casting service, which new parents like. Queen Victoria started this trend and now it has come back into fashion. These casts make a lovely keepsake.
Ambitions for the future?
I want to continue to be a successful sculptor and share my jewels! I also want to share my passion and the joy of art with others, and hopefully inspire them.