The Duchess of Cornwall was impressed by talented artists, musicians and young actors during a visit to the Pound Arts Centre in Corsham today.
The centre was opened by the Duchess in 2007 after a £1.2 million refurbishment, and she returned to visit the centre’s acoustic and artists’ studios, which were completed last year.
During her tour the Duchess spoke to volunteers, trustees and friends of the centre, as well as members of the Bath Textile Artists and piano students in the new acoustic pods.
She watched youngsters perform from ActNow, the centre’s youth theatre, listened to a story-telling session for young children and unveiled a plaque in the centre’s cafe to commemorate her visit.
Speaking at the unveiling, she said: “I’m so pleased to see the progress here, it seems to have gone from strength to strength and seeing those wonderful artist studios is another plus.
“If anything else happens please ask me back again.”
And she joked about her trials and tribulations as an art student, revealing that some of her efforts ended up in the bin, during the visit.
The Prince of Wales is well known for his work as a watercolourist but his wife has also tried her hand at painting and received private tutoring from an artist.
When the Duchess walked into a studio being used by a group of women painters who meet once a week, Jehanne Le Quesne put her hands to her face and revealed she had nothing to show for her efforts.
"I've thrown it away," she told Camilla, who replied: "I know that feeling."
A central table was covered with paints, brushes and canvases and the Duchess walked around complimenting the women on their work.
She said: "My husband's a very good watercolourist - he's very good and I'm very bad," adding "I was always tearing mine up".
The Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Sarah Troughton is an old friend of the Duchess and she joined her during the tour of the centre.
She joked about how they had art lessons together and described herself as "the teacher's pet" while Camilla said "yes we did have fun".
Afterwards Mrs Troughton said: "We had private lessons together a long time ago from an artist and it's no secret I was a bit of a teacher's pet."
Fine artist Chris Dunn, 27, from Calne, who is working in one of the new studios said: “I used to work in my attic at home, so to be in a space where I’m not bending over all the time is great. Working in a studio focuses the mind.
“She said some very nice things. She said I had a talent which is very nice, it makes you quite bashful really, and she took my card which is nice.
“It’s nice to have someone who’s in the public eye like that come round, not just for me but for the whole setup, it raises the profile of the arts centre as a whole.”
Director Russ Tunney said: “The arts are under-funded so we need all the help we can get.
“She’s come twice and she’s offered to come again, she obviously feels something about the building and you’re full of pride being able to introduce her to such a wide range of users.
“It’s not just Corsham, the work that we do is across Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire. The Pound story is growing when most other people are re-trenching so we’re in an unusual position.”