Becky Paton: My Favourite Places
Becky Paton is an Oxfordshire-based mosaic artist specialising in public art. With work at the V&A museum of childhood and the John Radcliffe Hospital, you can catch her work at the forthcoming Oxford Artweeks in May. Having grown up near Burford in the Cotswolds she trained as a nurse before going on to study Public Art and Design at Chelsea School of Art, where she discovered her love for Mosaics.
Here are some of her favourite places.
I love living in Beckley. It’s a very small village and is about 10 minutes from central Oxford so it’s as close to the city as you can be in the country. There’s the Otmoor nature reserve in the village – people come from miles around to see the starling murmurations. Another thing to look out for is the old telephone box in the village which was bought by the parish council for £1. It’s such a bizarre and wonderful little space that the community has adopted it as a place to create art – even the RSPB are also about to exhibit. And I can’t talk about Beckley without mentioning the village pub The Abingdon. It’s the hub of the village community, and it has a fantastic garden for summer.
WOMAD festival at Charlton Park in Cirencester
We’ve tried to get to WOMAD every year since the kids were born. I’ve always loved music and I used to go to Glastonbury when I was younger but then it got so huge that you couldn’t see the bands you wanted to anymore. I first discovered WOMAD when it was at Reading but I still love it at the new site in Cirencester. We spend a long weekend there as a family. My youngest is only eight but it’s such a community-orientated environment- it’s great to be able to relax and just know that the kids are safe with us there. It’s so great when the sun is shining, the quality of the music is brilliant and you can just submerge yourself in a completely different world. We just come away feeling amazing. The food they serve at the Madras Cafe is definitely worth mentioning, it’s just amazing.
I love the V&A museum and there’s this little polish restaurant that always goes hand in hand with a visit there. I discovered it accidentally after a friend and I payed a visit to the V&A to see a talk by the punk ballet star Michael Clark (who I have a bit of a soft-spot for but that’s another story). We stumbled across Daquise and I actually thought it was a French restaurant because it was quite rustic-looking with sort of crumbly walls! The chef comes out and prepares the dishes in front of you so it’s such an interesting experience. Their starters are so incredible, they do the best steak tartare I’ve ever tasted.
I love London and try to go there as much I can but with three kids it can be tricky. One event I always make time for is run by Andrew Logan. He’s an outrageous glass and instillation artist and for the last four years he has put on an event called The Alternative Miss World. It’s just such a vibrant, wonderful event- kind of a celebration of creativity and colour – it’s open for anyone to enter. It has a theme each year and people make their own costumes. He has a panel of judges that in the past has included Zandra Rhodes, David Hockney and Fenella Fielding and at the end of the event, someone is crowned The Alternative Miss World. It’s just such a colourful day and attracts such a varied crowd of people- I’ve never been to an event where you’d see a 70-year-old man in black tie next to a 20-year-old drag artist and they just look perfect together. Last year I even ended up taking a selfie with Mario Testino. The last event actually inspired two of my more recent portraiture pieces.
The Milk Shed cafe, Weston on the Green
The Milk Shed cafe in Weston on the Green is just off the main drag nestled in some industrial unit. It’s a bit of a bizarre location, not the most romantic of places, but Lucie (the owner) makes the most amazing ice cream. When the blood oranges are in season she does this homemade blood orange ice cream- combined with the chocolate flavour. It’s just divine. They have daily specials like crab and avocado dishes that look amazing on the plate and pack a real punch.
Stavanger, South Norway
We spent three years living in Norway- my kids went to international school there. At the quayside in Stavanger. Between ten and two o’clock, the boats would all come to the quayside and sell these great big bags of freshly caught seafood like prawns, lobster and
langoustine all cooked and caught on the boat. We would just buy bags of it and sit down for lunch and eat with our hands. It just became one of those lovely family rituals while we were living there.
We have friends who live in this little fishing village called Porthleven in Cornwall and it’s stunning with a gorgeous beach and lovely walks. One of the most wonderful things in Porthleven is the Salt Cellar, an open artist run studio. There are usually around 7 artist sellers (a couple of my friends sell their amazing clothes and hats there) and it’s always a treat to visit and to support small creative businesses.
Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily
Sicily is a place my husband and I love to revisit and it has one of the most amazing Roman mosaics we have ever seen. It always inspires me. The Villa Romana del Casale is an old Roman villa just outside the town of Piazza Armerina that has the most incredible collection of excavated mosaics with incredible animals and even an early depiction of women in Roman bikinis.
Interview: Imogen Eaton