A SCULPTOR who saw her life’s work go up in flames has recreated the pieces that were reduced to ashes.

Beatrice Hoffman, who lives in Garford, near Frilford, committed herself to rebuilding the collection that was destroyed when a fire ripped through her former home.

The 54-year-old, who described the tragedy as “a symbolic experience of loss”, is preparing to show off her sculptures at Oxfordshire Artweeks.

She said: “It was a pretty serious fire. I had just put in a whole exhibition’s work to protect it from the winter.”

German-born Mrs Hoffman moved to Garford two years ago, after the fire devastated her old home in Northamptonshire and robbed her of about 20 works.

Thought to be caused by an electrical fault, it gutted the house and studio while she and her husband slept.

She said: “It was a symbolic experience of loss which lots of people have at one stage of life. I was very grateful that there wasn’t loss of life. Things healed and repaired, it motivated us to move.”

Mrs Hoffman, who was forced to pay out thousands of pounds for the damage, managed to see the silver lining.

She said: “The sculptures weren’t good enough, but I would have never had the courage to change them. The fire forced me to improve them. I used the remains of the old casts and reclaimed them. They have changed – I moved from being very angular to something softer. My skill has got so much better.”

Her creations – of human figures, animals and abstract shapes – are sculpted from clay, bronze and polystyrene, each taking her up to a year to complete.

The mother-of-two went to art school 30 years ago.

She said: “I had dabbled in other art, but I had quite low confidence which took me a while to build up.

“I did sculpting in GCSE and loved it, but it was very hard to get any tuition. In Germany, selection was one in one hundred applications, whereas in England it was more like one in seven.

“I like the tactile quality of clay and materials, the direct sense of touch. I like the use of strength when you stone-carve and I like the slowness.”

Mrs Hoffman now hosts sculpting classes in her garden studio. .

She will open her studio to art lovers on May 14, 15, 21 and 22, as part of the festival which runs from May 7-30.

To see her work contact her at beatricehoffman.co.uk