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Prunella Clough: A Centenary

[ Exhibition )

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Abstract painting by Prunella Clough depicting a grey background with narrow streakes of green running horizontally across. In the upper left is a circle of green next to a circle of white on a grey rectangle.

Prunella Clough, Disused Land, 1999, oil on canvas, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through the Art Fund, 2004) © Estate of Prunella Clough. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019.

A retrospective exhibition on one of Britain’s leading female painters.

Prunella Clough (1919-1999) turned her back on the picturesque scenery normally favoured by artists. Instead, she spent her long and varied career exploring the overlooked urban wastelands and industrial fringes of Britain’s ports and cities with an enduring curiosity in seeing the everyday anew and revealing the poetry in the prosaic.

This centenary exhibition traces Clough’s work from her early figurative depictions of dockworkers, fishermen, a lorry driver, as it evolves towards abstraction. The figures slowly disappear but Clough’s close observation of colour, texture and form remain constant throughout, as does her fascination with the human impact on landscape. It was this distinct visual language that marked her out as one of the 20th century’s most exceptional female artists.

Spanning the six decades of her career, the exhibition draws upon the Gallery’s own notable holdings of paintings and prints and a number of significant, rarely-seen works loaned from private collections. Beginning with works from the 1940s, and ending with Disused Land (1999), one of Clough’s final paintings, the exhibition is a testament to her remarkable and consistent experimentation, or as she phrased it, ‘a lifetime’s graft’.

Shortly before her death in 1999, Clough was awarded the Jerwood Painting Prize in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the medium.