Prunella Clough - The Open College of the Arts
Explore #WeAreOCA
Skip Navigation

Prunella Clough

A beautiful new book has been published about the artist Prunella Clough. The book, ‘Regions Unmapped’, has been written by Frances Spalding who many of you will know of as she wrote the Thames and Hudson book ‘British Art Since 1900’. This book is very much a biography, with intimate detail of Clough’s life including her early years. As an artist, I would prefer to see more in the artist’s own words about her studio practice, but it is part of Prunella Clough’s personality and relationship to her work that she spoke about it very little.

Clough’s career started just before the war, and in 1992, shortly before her death, she won the extremely prestigious Jerwood Drawing Prize. This means that her career spanned nearly 60 years! I don’t know why I keep blogging about artists in their eighties, it is not intentional. I think I enjoy the idea that these people have lived their whole lives as artists.
 
Many artists who call themselves professional artists actually do not make a living from their art work. The professionalism comes out of their relationship to their work rather than their work’s relationship to commerce. This causes many difficulties for artists coping with material insecurity, but people like Prunella Clough remind me of the bigger prize as it were. Clough lived her life creatively, exploring ideas and finding beauty in the every day.

On Clough’s death, a fascinating archive was donated to the Tate who has digitalised it and out it on their website, making her quite easy to research. I am involved in writing the course book for Drawing 2 at the moment and plan to make use of this archive as it is so accessible. Anyway, surely a perk of writing a book is to be able to showcase a couple of my favourite artists!
 
Spalding’s book describes a person of grace and intelligence who kept up a curiosity about the development of contemporary art but whose art work is deeply personal, subtle and complex. I am glad that Frances Spalding has had the sensitivity to pick up on Clough’s quiet majesty as a quick look at previous criticism, for example on Andrew Graham Dixon’s web page, suggests a lack of ambition which to seems to me to come from a misreading of her own modesty which has stopped people from seeing the pure ambition in her actual output. (Perhaps the image of Andrew on his web page looking like Christ radiating beams of light gives a hint as to why he might overlook someone more used to hiding their light.)

Further to my first blog when I spoke about my efforts to organise myself to make an application to do an m.a., I am pleased to say that I was successful and will be taking up a place on the Master of Fine Art course in Contemporary Art Practice in August at Edinburgh University. I am hopeful that the next two years will nurture my relationship with my work, allow me to regroup and confirm my commitment so that I can get on with the rest of my life as an artist.
 
 


Posted by author: Emma Drye
Share this post:

5 thoughts on “Prunella Clough

  • Bought the book a while ago and researched her on the TATE site, as she was the subject of my critical review for FYW. I love her work and I think she is a very under rated female artist. She shows a real sensitivity and emotional response to her environment.
    Congratulations Emma on your MA application success.
    Sue

  • I have spotted this book and it is on my list to get a copy. Love her work and I too think she is underrated. Congrats Emma and thanks for posting this, was not aware of the Tate archive info so very useful.

  • Very interesting. I am not very familiar with her work but am inspired to find out more. i like what you say about her professionalism and how it relates to her attitude to her art. This is something that is often missed when talking about success.

  • ‘This causes many difficulties for artists coping with material insecurity, but people like Prunella Clough remind me of the bigger prize as it were. Clough lived her life creatively, exploring ideas and finding beauty in the every day’ Quote
    She was lucky enough to have independent means I must admit, but she lived simply and helped many of her students financially.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to blog listings