Artist profile - Cassandra Batterby, Ribble Valley
PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 June 2017
Artist Cassandra Battersby's latest project involves capturing the beauty of Lancashire's private estates. She talks to Olivia Assheton, a long admirer of her work.
Cassandra Batterby’s original job as a highly paid nuclear design engineer working out of Washington State and her current life as a landscape artist painting based in the Ribble Valley couldn’t be more of a constrast. How do you go from 13 years of working in the nuclear industry, helping clean up hundreds of tanks of high-level radioactive waste and contaminated groundwater, to the tranquil life of an artist in rural Lancashire?
Lancashire’s beautiful landscapes and her love of its countryside drew the Blackburn-born artist back home to take a fine art degree at UCLan. This was supported by NSG Environmental – the Chorley company which continued to employ her through her studies – and she graduated with first class honours in 2011. Continuing to develop in the ‘Atelier’ tradition of Fine Art skills, Cassandra started to receive public and private commissions for her landscapes in pastel, watercolour and oils, and her reputation grew.
‘To me, capturing an expression of something with a couple of swipes of paint just isn’t good enough and should not be a substitute for really accurate observation from life,’ says Cassandra, who is at the Bashall Barn studio that she shares with her partner, acclaimed portraitist John Rotherham. ‘Understanding my materials to realistically and beautifully present what I am seeing and feeling is what drives me to paint every day.’
Her stunning, atmospheric landscapes, imbued with exceptional vibrancy and colour, are painted ‘en plein air’ and were inspired by ‘hero’ artists JMW Turner and Richard Schmid. Her latest project, which took her to the private estates of Bleasdale, Claughton, Browsholme, Downham and Twiston and Whitewell, aimed to highlight the rich variety of our local landscapes. She was granted unrestricted access by the landowners to research the project in terms of the views that she wanted to feature, and had help and guidance from them on how to best capture the essence of their unique beauty.
Francis and Jenny Fitzherbert-Brockholes at Claughton on Brock, for instance, directed Cassandra to their gardens, which she painted in June and July last year. These include her view of an ornamental bridge and part of the ‘Long Water’ which some have suggested was designed by the celebrated 18th century landscape gardener William Emes.
Always attracted by the wooded vistas of the Downham Estate with Pendle Hill in the background, these are contrasted with the lakes and meres of Browsholme and the rugged, bold hills and ridges of the Bleasdale Estate in the recent works. The epic sweeps of Whitewell’s celebrated Trough valleys completed the project, when October sun slanted and lit the autumn colour in her landscapes.
Cassandra says: ‘The thing that struck me most during my visits was the variety we have in our local countryside, ranging from vast hills and open fields, to intimate brooks and streams. The pathways, stone walls and even run-down buildings have their own beauty, especially set against the colourful backdrop of summer plants and flowers.’
‘The kind welcomes, enthusiasm and interest that I received from estate owners and their tenants was absolutely wonderful, as well as the occasional company of local walkers, ramblers and riders in even the most isolated of spots and sometimes not in ideal weather conditions! It made me realise that I could happily spend the rest of my life visiting sites and people across Lancashire and, even then, not get close to seeing and appreciating it all.’
Cassandra’s work for her Great Estates project can be seen at Bashall Barn, Bashall Eaves, near Clitheroe. It is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-5pm and other times by appointment. Call 07736 540895 or email email@example.com. Visit www.studiobb.co.uk. A series of limited edition prints from selected works will be available later in the year.