Amateur painter and sculptor Harvey Ladew had a keen appreciation of art in many forms —
painting, traditional sculpture, and of course, the art of topiary. 
Over the years, Ladew Gardens has welcomed local, national and internationally renowned artists to the Gardens to exhibit and sell their work. 

This year, as we celebrate our 50 years as a public garden, Ladew Gardens is thrilled to present the stunning works of

Clayton J. Bright and Anne Blackwell Thompson.




J. Clayton Bright is a self-taught sculptor and (mostly) self-taught painter. He was thirty before he felt an urge to try art. Previously, he served in the Army as a paratrooper with a tour in Viet Nam as a member of a long-range reconnaissance team, lived in Australia, and hitchhiked from Singapore to London. Upon his return to his native Philadelphia he worked on the trading floor of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange until a chance encounter with a Jersey cow in 1976 tempted him to try his hand at sculpture. 

Working in a style known as Natural Realism, Clayton captures, in both his sculptures and paintings, a moment observed that defines character or causes him to pause, look closely, and be refreshed. Though his finished works appear effortless and spontaneous, in reality Clayton bases his work on a thoughtful observation of nature carefully recorded. 

In teaching himself to be a sculptor Clayton has created a unique art form. Using bronze instead of a camera he produces remarkable snapshots that preserve a split second in the subject’s life.  The moment captured is always one that affords a precise characterization. Clayton’s pieces have a great complexity beneath their seemingly simple veneer; an attention to craftsmanship gives his art great depth.

He is a Renaissance man and naturalist with a broad range of knowledge which includes horticulture and garden design; architecture; interior and furniture design; the breeding and training of hounds; history, sailing, and bee keeping. For Clayton, all aspects of life are intertwined.  Clayton’s work is timeless and speaks to a universal audience, thus his sculptures and paintings can be found in collections in Asia, South America, Europe and the U.S.

Clayton’s sculptures will be exhibited throughout our 2021 season. Included among the twenty plus bronzes scattered within our gardens that you may happen upon are a sheep resting in our Meadow, a dog playing soccer in the Great Bowl, and a fox scaling a hedge in the Croquet Court.


We invite you to open yourself up to imagination and possibilities as you enter Clayton’s world of whimsical delight at Ladew.


Jack O'Lantern

A Moment

Third Element

Great Blue

Photos of Clayton Bright's sculptures are credited to: Terrence Roberts