To say that Pat Bannister is an artist is rather like saying that champagne is a nice drink. The term ‘artist’ simply doesn’t do her justice. It sometimes seems that there is no aspect of art that is beyond her capabilities. But then the factors that have shaped her life have been so varied that the breadth of her artistry should perhaps come as less of a surprise.
This Shipton lady began life as a scientific assistant on one of the first computers in this country, an enormous mainframe beast. This was when she met her husband, Peter, and from there onwards her life took off as his job took him away with Shell to long-term appointments in Venezuela, then Kenya and then Holland. At each place she picked up artistic skills that would stand her in good stead for life. While in Venezuela she encountered Mexican papier mache. This developed into a life-long passion for sculpture using materials as varied as clay, stone and soapstone.
Tragedy struck when, just months after moving to Shipton upon Peter’s retirement, he died. Pat was bereft but just when it seemed that the move to Shipton was doomed, the WI and other members of the local community stepped in. Before long, Pat was being supported and encouraged to make good use of her talents in the community. It would not be an exaggeration to state that this community was her lifeline; as she said herself:
“I would have been completely lost without the WI.”
She painted scenery for the WI panto and she found an aptitude for flower arranging in the church. Her fundraising for the new village hall included posing with a pumpkin on her head and two strategically placed colanders in a parallel with the famous WI Calendar Girls. Then when it was suggested that the creation of a small sculpture would be a fitting celebration of the church’s 900th anniversary, she produced a beautifully simple and moving Madonna and Child that arrests the attention in a niche beside the lectern.
So far she had shown real artistry in papier mache, sculpture, flower arranging and painting scenery but she hadn’t finished. As sculpture became more difficult in a home setting, she tried her hand at portrait painting; the results are, at the very least, engaging. These are not the amateur daubs of somebody feeling her way into a new field of art. Two paintings that demand the watcher’s regard show an elderly lady praying for peace and another that catches her granddaughter’s love for the artist. Both are remarkable for catching the eyes of the subject, staring in total absorption; one in contemplation, one in adoration.
Pat still has age on her side; one wonders where her next extension into the breadth of art will take her?
February – March 2017