Bognor based artist using her talent for good causes

Vicky meets...Brenda Thompson, artist and volunteer

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:47 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:50 am
Brenda Thompson
Brenda Thompson

When did you discover your artistic talent?

I was born in South London and grew up in the 50s. It was wonderful and I enjoyed every minute. I wasn’t academic, but I always painted. I remember drawing an eye that really impressed my teacher. The school told my parents that I was very good at art, but my father said I couldn’t earn a living out of it.

So what did you do to earn a living?

I started work as a window dresser aged 15. The company I worked for sent me to evening classes to study design and by the time I turned 25 I was display manager for all three of their shops.

All my friends were married with children by the time they were 18, but I knew I didn’t want that.

I didn’t meet my husband John until I was 27 and we married when I was 30. We lived together first, which then was unheard of back then! But it’s been magic ever since. My career took off and I ended up working for a company of shop fitters as the UK manager. It took me all over the country. I loved it, but I still painted as a hobby.

How did you end up in Bognor?

Thirty years ago we visited friends here. We saw the house prices in the Bognor Observer and decided to make the move. I started teaching art classes in Middleton and was chairman of Felpham Art Club for five years. I’ve arranged lots of exhibitions over the years.

I accept the occasional commission, but you sometimes have to paint what the client sees rather than what you see! If you want to sell work then it has to have commercial appeal. Mostly I just paint for my own pleasure now.

And now you’re using your artistic skills at the Regis Centre’s charity shop?

I’m a proud volunteer at the Regis Centre and in its charity shop, which is just next to Sweet Flamingo ice creams. We get some wonderful items, including designer clothes.

I often have a painting on the go in the shop and that sparks up some great chats with customers.

I also have a spinning wheel and I spin wool from a sheep called Sprout and make little mice that we call the Theatre Mice.

We sell these in the charity shop too. There is a charm about the Regis Centre. I can’t explain it, but I know that whoever comes through the door will be met with warmth and kindness. It’s a special place.

What else have you got happening in the shop?

We are having a half-price the week starting February 10. There are lots of bargains, so do come and say hello. It’s a little shop with a big heart and all proceeds support the theatre. Find the theatre charity shop opposite the Regis Centre in Belmont St, Bognor Regis.