“Sometimes I find it rather hard to eat the fruit or veg I’ve been drawing, because it’s like I have a relationship with them by then,” says artist Natasha Clutterbuck. We’re speaking from the family home she shares with her husband (Colin, a twice-crowned “national champion hedgelayer”) and their two daughters in the village of Stanton Drew, Somerset.
“I’ve been sketching a lot of Crown Prince squash recently and I just found them too beautiful to eat. But actually, you do feel good when they make it into the pot,” she says. “What I draw definitely ends up affecting what we grow and cook.”
Few know more about the pros and cons of having vegetables as your muse than Natasha, who has found her niche with drawings that capture seasonal, organic produce in all its vivid glory.
Typically, she sketches rapidly in charcoal, on paper that she has stained with tannin-rich local oak bark. Then, she’ll add colour to her subjects with natural pigments, including paints made from red ochre from the Mendip Hills that she grinds herself.
For mud, Natasha has stopped using brown paint in favour of actual mud. “It’s usually right there on the vegetable anyway, and there’s something magical about just using the real stuff,” she says.
Natasha’s home studio includes a veranda to allow her to sketch from her garden. “Sometimes I am drawing naturalistically, showing what’s growing here. But I will also arrange still-life compositions in my studio, which can feel more theatrical and can tell a story, such as by grouping companion species together.”
As for how her veg fixation started? In 2010, Natasha, then a ceramicist and a new mother, was struggling to find enough time for her art. “I had this urge to reconnect with my creativity, so I offered to teach a drawing workshop in my village one day,” she says.
“And when the new owners of the local pub happened to see the sketch I had made, of a bowl of squash, they invited me to create some artworks for their walls.” Natasha took on the commission and has been taking on commissions ever since.
“I got really into the subject matter,” she says, in something of an understatement. “Because that natural vibrancy of local, seasonal, veg really translates into her drawings.”
Her various large-scale works include a pumpkin-themed mural for the headquarters of Yeo Valley Organic, where she is also the artist in residence, leading workshops in the organic garden. Her current work in progress is a pastoral mural design for the new Dyson Cancer Centre in Bath, which will feature pollinating insects.
Here at THE PIG, we’re also big supporters. Natasha’s drawings feature in bedrooms across THE PIGs – including the new Stream Wagons at THE PIG-at Combe and THE PIG-at Bridge Place. For those in particular, she was invited by Judy Hutson (who masterminds all our PIG interiors) to create a series of new drawings.
“They are works that show apples growing on the branch, capturing the qualities of different varieties such as ‘Golden Hornet’, ‘Red Sentinel’ and ‘Bramley,’” explains Natasha. “To see my works in the beautiful environments across THE PIGs always means a lot. It feels like such a natural fit.” In her own way, Natasha is just another one of our food suppliers.