Celebrating the life and legacy of Brenda Naylor

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Brenda knew that DCD is an organisation offering very practical help to dancers coming to the end of their stage careers.


1st April 2019

DCD last month celebrated the legacy of eminent sculptor and dance artist, Brenda Naylor, on the anniversary of her death. We celebrate her extraordinary career and pay tribute to the kindness and generosity she showed in leaving a legacy to benefit dancers in their lives beyond performance.

Brenda Naylor (5 July 1926 – 11 March 2016) was an artist and sculptor for whom dancers inspired a prolific legacy of work. She was known for her bronze sculptures, for the inimitable and intimate style of her studio, rehearsal and performance sketches and for her vibrant, determined character.

Brenda left instructions that her art created over many years should benefit charity after her death, and particularly help dancers move on to second careers following their lives on stage. 75% of the sale price of artworks purchased via Brenda’s website is donated directly to DCD, and there are unique pieces still available to purchase here.

Speaking of her decision to support DCD, David and Annie Lade, Brenda’s nephew and niece-in-law explained:

“Brenda was an artist, but she was also a very practical person. Brenda knew that DCD is an organisation offering very practical help to dancers coming to the end of their stage careers. She took up sculpting in her fifties, and knew better than most that we can have more than one career. She greatly admired the incredible hard work and dedication of the dancers she encountered, and cared very much about them and their future lives.”


Top Left: The late Brenda Naylor, 5th July 1926 – 11th March 2016; Right: Mark Morris Dancers, studio sketch by Brenda Naylor; Bottom Left: Bronze of Marion Tait in “Confessional” by Brenda Naylor


Brenda trained at St Martin’s as a fashion sketch artist before being selected in 1943 by the royal dressmaker Norman Hartnell to be his sketch artist and later assistant. Brenda had a longstanding artistic interest in movement, gained initially from a passion for drawing horses and later skaters, which developed into an interest in ballet and deep appreciation for dance and dancers.

In the 1980s, she received permission to sketch and photograph dancers of the Royal Ballet. From these she made sculptures, an art form for which she was entirely self-taught, capturing the beauty in movement of those dancers she most admired. As she gained recognition for her ability to capture movement, many of her sculptures went on to be exhibited in London galleries and theatres and came to be sought after by collectors.

To date, the sale of Brenda’s artworks have raised over £40,000 for DCD. There are still a number of beautiful artworks remaining, which can be viewed and purchased via http://brendanaylor.co.uk/ or please contact Clare Davis at Clare@thedcd.org.uk, to arrange a private viewing of the remaining collection.