Charlie Barton in Tatler Home
"Charlie Barton is a Sheppey Maid, a military baby born on that odd little isle and brought up on Salisbury Plain. She now lives a horse- and paint-mad life on Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber's Sydmonton estate in Berkshire, where she shares a poetic little cottage with her mother.
Because Charlie - a ravishingly sportif and improbable 48 - is an impoverished artist who has waitressed, sold shirts to bankers, PA'd for Jeffrey Archer, run around on film sets and worked at Tiffany's to fund her painting.
Well, I say impoverished, but her client base suggests a rising star. The Countess of Wessex came to her first exhibition in 2001 and now has an 'abstract painting, one of the Matter series, in their panelled dining room and they actually want another one,' says Charlie, sitting on a paint-splattered chair in her studio, a sort of converted garage in an outbuilding at Oakhurst House, the home of some friends 15 minutes from Sydmonton.
Princess Michael of Kent, Swiss polo luminary and billionaire Urs Schwarzenbach and his wife Francesca and the Dowager Viscountess Rothermere are all owners of Charlie's unexpectedly elemental and imposing work. 'I started with skulls which was a bit grim, but then I started developing these ideas about energy and matter,' she says. So, despite her love of all things equine and her horsey clientele, she is surprisingly conceptual.
'Then I was doing water currents and volcanic magma and looking at transformation: how we degenerate and regenerate as a different material. It began with the body and then I thought about the Earth, about how we stand on solid ground but there's this molten mass underneath.' So not horse portraits, then.
'Charlie's portraits are very commercial and collectable,' says Madeleine Lloyd-Webber, surrogate sister, client and fan. 'Every time you look at one of her incredible moons you see something different. They work brilliantly in contemporary and classical settings.
Pop in - to see the girl as much as the art. She is single, and her work might be planetary, but she is rather heavenly."