About Brenda Barratt
I come from an artistic background where my grandfather was an artist, two aunts were hat designers and my father a talented, versatile artist who worked in every medium you can imagine from his studio at home.
Needless to say, from a young age I used to sit with my rather eccentric father watching him paint. I soon got impatient to be allowed to help him with his paintings. He would allow me to put in snow flakes and birds into his pictures and sometimes I would get carried away and make them rather too large!
Dad was commissioned to paint watercolours of important buildings thought unlikely to survive WW11. His painting, amongst many other well-known artists is in the custody of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
At the age of 8, I won an art competition for a poster I had created for Essex County Council with a picture of a toad leaping across the road with a policeman standing nearby looking very cross. It said “don’t be like this naughty toad, look before you cross the road!” I won the school art club and then on leaving school I became a fashion model for a while. However, on finding it very hard work changing clothes every five minutes, I was sent to secretarial college.
Some years later the terrible storm came and I was so upset to see Buxted Park devastated, I went there with my paper and pencil and frantically started pencilling in what it used to look like before all the trees came down. I took this picture when finished to my father, who stroked his chin and commented, “Well if you really want to paint, then I had better show you how properly!” The rest is history.
My son, Oliver also has a natural bent for art and so to raise funds for Great Ormond Street when he fell ill, we had a “Three Generations of Art” exhibition in Uckfield. We were quite stunned at the level of interest and support. A lad of 10, me and my father who was in his 70s then – great fun and we sold out in a few days.
My love of architecture soon reflected in my art. I really enjoy painting peoples’ homes. I love the whole project of driving out, meeting the owners and taking photos and discussing what they would really like so that they have a permanent record of their home.
With schools and colleges, I began with painting Oliver’s school, Hurstpierpoint College. I painted the school for friends and then one day someone suggested I made a limited print run. This created the base of my business. I have now undertaken almost forty schools and colleges. I paint an original of the school and donate it to the head teacher and then have prints made and sell them to the pupils, staff and alumni.
In May 2010, my painting of Cranbrook School in Kent was taken up into space by Piers Sellars, the famous UK astronaut, an ex pupil of Cranbrook. This was the last space shuttle flight to take place before the fleet retired for ever.
In March 2011 Dr Sellers returned to his old school with my painting bearing his signature authenticating its 5 million miles of space travel at a speed of 18,000 mph. The painting was carried in a compartment beneath the space shuttle’s floor and is thought to be the first original watercolour to have travelled into space and back.