YOU have to mention the family bit, I suppose, Nicholas Dimbleby asks rather wistfully. 'I don't mind, it's just that I don't want to appear to be trading on the name or the connections or whatever.' Unspoken, but ever-present, is the sense that Dimbleby doesn't want to be seen as the third son of broadcaster Richard, or brother to David and Jonathan. In his own right, he is a serious figurative sculptor, but sometimes the name thing gets in the way. 'At art school the name gave me nothing but trouble,' he says. However, the connections have been useful, he concedes. 'My brothers helped, as much as anyone's brothers would help. They've been supportive. And some of their friends have seen my work and liked it. 'But I don't think they would have bought anything as a favour,' he says, considering the possibility for a moment and then rejecting it. One of those friends is Governor Chris Patten, who owns some Dimbleby work. Another is the Prince of Wales, who commissioned him to do a sculpture for the walled kitchen garden at Highgrove. It's a bronze relief, appropriately called Green Man, depicting the face of a bearded woodlands god. It's set in the wall by a fountain, one of the Prince's favourite quiet retreats. The piece is leafy and strongly pagan, and includes the carved motto genius loci or 'spirit of the place', an idea that is fundamental to Dimbleby's work. 'I like to have things in their proper setting.' Which is why Dimbleby's first exhibition in Hong Kong is not in a gallery but in a private garden in Sai Kung. 'Of course, I preferred the idea of showing in a public place, because I wanted everyone to be able to see them. But these sculptures really have to be seen outside, and there didn't seem to be anywhere else that was suitable.' The 20 or so pieces he brought with him from the United Kingdom have been placed around the lawn and house of businessman David Tang for the exhibition. The result is partly drama, as the bronzes and stone reliefs stand against a backdrop of sea and hills, and partly domesticity, created by the many models of children placed throughout the garden. A bronze boy on a pillar sits on a private pier surrounded by manicured mangroves, looking out to the ocean. A stone upper body of a woman emerges from the swimming pool, as if fresh from a swim. A young boy sleeps, sprawled on his back, under a tree in the shade. 'I try to create a psychological energy, to persuade people that what was flesh has become bronze; to look at the boundaries between what is real and what is modelled,' Dimbleby says. He looks 10 years younger than his 49 years as, dressed in checked shirt, jeans and battered panama hat, he hauls heavy bronzes around the garden in preparation for the show. 'The hat isn't an affectation,' he says, anxious not to create the wrong impression of to-the-manor-born amateurism, citing a family susceptibilty to skin cancer, which has appeared in non-malignant forms already. Actually, Dimbleby doesn't appear to have too many affectations, unless you include his vagueness, which seems genuine. It is just one of many things that have set him apart from his very switched-on older brothers since his childhood, when it was soon evident that he was not going to be academic. 'School was a total disaster,' he says unapologetically. 'I couldn't read until I was about eight. So I made things instead - tree houses, things like that. It has always come naturally.' At the time, clearly, there were worries that Nicholas was not as bright as the others, which hurt. Only later, much later, was it realised that he was dyslexic, and only two years ago a serious stigmatism was found in his left eye: letters move and shift as he looks at them, making reading a nauseating and confusing experience. 'I found refuge in the art rooms,' he says, noting that his father had not been an academic and mercifully had not forced him into studies that he hated. But it must have been a hard position for a child to find himself in. 'My father always made everything seem effortless. It took some time for me to find out that it wasn't the case, and you did have to work hard,' he says. 'It's difficult for anyone whose father is in that position. It isn't exactly a shadow, but it affects you. He would go away and do his broadcasting, and we got a false impression of what his life was all about. I don't think that's very helpful.' The first work Dimbleby did was abstract. He was, like almost every other Western artist of his generation, a product of the 60s art school mentality that art could not mirror reality in any figurative way. 'I was doing a lot of interesting things with trees roped together. But, ultimately, I found it was coming from the mind, not the heart, so I looked for a different way of working.' The first realistic bronze piece he made is called Divers, a humorous piece showing two legs (modelled on his wife's) diving into a fountain. It was first shown at the Royal Academy. 'I made it for a bit of light relief,' he says. 'It's a bit risky, because it makes a joke, but it's not a bad joke, I suppose.' This is one of very few works in the Hong Kong show that was not commissioned specifically: bronze-making is too expensive and time-consuming a process to do without a buyer having been pre-arranged. But commissioning doesn't have to limit artistic integrity, he argues. One very beautiful piece in the show is of two boys' torsos, placed side by side, made from the body casts of Dimbleby's two sons. It is called Adelphoi, Greek for 'brothers'. 'The person who commissioned the original just asked me for something they could put in a corner,' he laughs. Many of the 20 pieces he has brought have stories, and names, behind them. One bronze Buddha-like baby, sitting proudly on a stone, tasseled cushion, is modelled on the future Duke of Wellington. 'He was a very autocratic little boy, even at that age.' The adult-sized Kuan Yin goddess was commissioned by Agatha Christie's daughter. Many of the other works are modelled on his four children: pictured as small dancers at rest, exhausted little boys, a self-possessed little girl in a big hat dreaming into the distance. It doesn't seem strange to sell models of his own children, he says, although it did hurt when recently two sculptures in his Devon garden were stolen. 'They whipped my own children out of the garden. That was cruel.' The process of making sculptures intrigues him; the process of actually selling them, he finds rather puzzling. 'I detest galleries with a vengeance,' he says. Also, rather surprisingly given his media family, he is bewildered by publicity. 'You can have an article in a glossy magazine about gardens and design and nothing happens. Then the local paper does two paragraphs along the lines that local man shows at the Royal Academy and someone calls me up the next day to ask if I'll do a memorial sculpture for Sylvia Plath. 'It just doesn't make any sense.' Nicholas Dimbleby Sculptures. By appointment only. Call 2526-9019.