Source Material

Prunella Clough: Original source photograph. (Collection, Gerard Hastings)

Clough got into the habit of making field notes to use in her studio. Sometime these took the form of line drawings worked up with additions of watercolour or gouache. She also used her camera to make ‘source photographs’ of things that struck her as visually interesting. These might be taken indoors to capture the effect of filtered light through netted curtains, racks of paintings in her studio or notable objects on shelves. While outdoors, on the high street or in a factory – she pointed her camera at anything that caught her eye. She explained, ‘I occasionally take rough photos, but often do not refer to them; they are only approximate aids for the memory.’ These aides memoires were sometimes reinforced with a complex, almost poetic method of taking down descriptive, written notes in an abbreviated, unpunctuated way:

"Consider final intention which is to be conveyed on larger scale. i.e. nature of urban building. Old/tachy and new/slick, (which implies urban skyline and sky density), & includes the non-directly industrial i.e. roads, posters etc. nature of immediate man-surroundings e.g. scrap, tools (lorries) etc; nature of urban /(rural) waste ground."

Prunella Clough: Original source photograph. (Collection, Gerard Hastings)

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Four Studies for 'Grid', 1973 Pencil and crayon on paper 29 x 40 cm. (11 ½ x 15 ¾ in.)

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Six Studies for a Painting, c. 1964 Pencil and crayon on paper 25.2 x 43 cm. (10 x 17 in.)

Before embarking on a major painting, Clough often made small-scale studies. The process could be rapidly executed or a long, drawn-out affair as she experimented with interesting forms and generated a range of useful textures. In these two studies soft pencils are combined with white and black pastels and several drawings are stapled together into a collage. This approach gave her the opportunity to test possible motifs and refine their placement and distribution in the final painting. Her drawings are often accompanied by written notations, which indicate some of the visual sources she was investigating:

Rubber (Sq section), Flex hanging tied on fence Plant & Fence, Paper litter between wall, Grid over basement and dark with pigeons’ feathers, paper etc. thicker

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