This very special exhibition marked the first time artists Daphne and Emma McClure had exhibited together in more than 10 years. Both artists have hugely successful painting careers in their own right and this joint show had been highly anticipated amongst their many collectors and admirers.
Daphne and Emma are inspired by the landscape they call home, and there is an obvious connection between their paintings in terms of subject matter: cows in a Cornish field, a vase of flowers on a table, boats moored in a harbour…. But where Daphne’s paintings are more expressive, perhaps led more by instinct, Emma’s studies feel more carefully composed, more thought out, with a coastal-inspired softer palette. Both demonstrate a masterly handling of composition and paint, and both have the ability to keep evolving the way they work, developing their own unique voice on the canvas. “It didn’t feel unusual that my mother was an artist when I was growing up,” says Emma, who studied at Falmouth School of Art, Winchester School of Art and Chelsea School of Art, graduating in 1985 with an MA in painting. “It felt very natural to have a creative mother. She was always painting or making something and it was a very creative household. The decision to go to art school was the most interesting option available, “ she says. “I never felt the need to rebel against it, just because it’s what my mother did.” Daphne, of course, spotted her daughter’s talent: “Emma showed an aptitude from an early age for drawing and painting, so it wasn’t a surprise to see her follow in my footsteps.”
And what footsteps…. Born in Helston, Cornwall, Daphne attended Hornsey College of Art and Central School of Art. After graduating and spending 5 years working in the costume department at The Royal Opera House (working on costumes for the likes of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev) she returned home to Cornwall and has been painting ever since. Daphne is now considered to be the Grande Dame of the Cornish art world – in 1995 she was commissioned by Tate, St. Ives to design a piece of work for its inaugural exhibition, and in 2004, she was invited by the Josef Albers Foundation to undertake an artist residency in Connecticut, USA. Both Daphne’s and Emma’s paintings can be found in private collections worldwide. After living and working in London for many years, Emma now lives near Penzance, not far from her mother. She has enjoyed many successful solo exhibitions in Cornwall and London and her compositions capture serenity and balance with an often playful humour and an underlying, deceptive simplicity. “I really admire mum’s sense of design and originality as well as her bold and direct approach. We start each painting in a similar way. We both like to work in series, exploring certain themes, and the starting point is always to observe and sketch and then develop the painting in the studio from drawings and memory.” Daphne agrees. “With both of us working in close proximity to each other, I’m sure there is cross fertilisation within our inspiration, but any influence on each other is subconscious,” she says. “If we were to paint the same vista, we would end up with completely different paintings. I’m sure we would find a different focus.” Emma concludes, “Because she’s such a good artist, there’s been quite a lot to live up to, but I don’t think it’s always helpful to make too many comparisons to each other. We sometimes ask for each other’s opinion on a new work. I value her opinion, and I think she values mine.”
Excerpt from “Joint Enterprise – Daphne and Emma McClure” by Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge in the Spring 2017 edition of Manor Magazine