CHELSEA was agog last week as Top Gear presenter James May’s Plasticine RHS Flower Show garden was criticised for not including a single living plant. However, the display did include a bust of William Harbutt, the Victorian inventor who created the malleable clay, sculpted by north Harrow artist Jane McAdam Freud, daughter of Lucien and great grand-daughter of Sigmund Freud.

When I visit Jane in her studio, she is preparing for her forthcoming show Other Side, which opens at Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue this week, and also putting the finishing touches to the Harbutt sculpture for the controversial garden, which is to feature on a new BBC2 series about Britain’s best-loved toys.

Jane’s work has also sparked debate. After her residency at the Freud Museum in 2006, the exhibition Relative Relations, which featured her work alongside items from Sigmund’s collection, toured to Harrow Museum where 1+1 a sculpture of an aroused male nude attracted unwelcome attention.

“The police said I had to cover it but it looked even more deviant. I wanted to hang a sign saying ‘no peeking’ but they said it had to say ‘adult content’.”

Jane does not mind causing a stir, however. She says she is glad to get a response.

“I worry they won’t react to my work and just say ‘oh that’s nice’, I’d rather you love or hate it. If someone is absolutely furious, at least I’ve hit the spot.”

Jane’s works are on show at the British Museum, Victoria & Albert and the Royal Mint. She currently has shows in New York and Taipei and is a regular exhibitor at Art in Action in Oxfordshire.

As we tour Jane’s secluded garden, she shows me some of the pieces for the show. We stop beside Taken – a clay and metal sculpture partly inspired by images of a mummified cat at The British Museum.

“Taken refers to the clay taken from the earth and made inert,” says Jane. “The title writtten backwards is ne kat, which when translated in phonetic Latin means it kills. This dual concept refers both to the process of firing the clay by removing the water and to the process of life – which also depends on water.”

To me, the sculpture has further meanings – it makes me think of the Elgin Marbles and other artefacts removed from their native lands and as a shrine to those who have been taken from us. I ask Jane if the show is in part a tribute to her late uncle Sir Clement Freud.

“Well yes,” she replies. “I suppose unconsciously it is.”

The unconscious is pivotal to Jane’s work. “I’ve always thought of art as a conduit for universal consciousness. The more one concept can touch on different cultures and embrace them – speaking one official language – this is what art should do.”

An open discussion on the works with psychologists, artists and interfaith organisations will take place on Sunday, June 7 from 3pm to 6pm at Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue, Preston Road, Harrow. At other times the exhibition is open by appointment only until Sunday, June 21. Details: 020 8904 8581 or