Ken Howard OBE, RA: Daphne and I studied at Hornsey School of Art albeit at different times but under the same tutors including Alan Braund who helped drag the School kicking and shouting into the 20th century. Since her return to Cornwall in the mid seventies, Daphne has fine-tuned her language. Whether dealing with boats, mines, fields or currently jugs, she is about revelation; the key element in the visual arts. Kenneth Clark wrote “Above all else art should be life-enhancing” and Daphne’s installations and series of paintings fulfil this criterion. I have been fortunate enough to live with a painting by Daphne McClure and my life is the richer for it.
Daphne McClure’s paintings display an expressive handling of the subject and its emotional intensity. Her work draws on the rich artistic heritage of Cornwall whilst still maintaining a contemporary and painterly feel. Her homes in Porthleven and later in Penzance provided the inspiration behind her most quintessential work.
Daphne McClure was born in Helston, Cornwall, in 1927. She attended the Hornsey College of Art and the Central School of Art before working at the Royal Opera House from 1952 – 1956 where she worked on costumes for designers including John Piper on The Magic Flute and Barbara Hepworth on Midsummer Marriage. She also worked on a new production of Stravinsky’s Firebird in which Margot Fonteyn danced. She returned home to Cornwall after working at The Royal Opera House and began to paint full time from her studio. In 1995 she was commissioned by the Tate Gallery in St Ives, to design a piece of work to exhibit for its first exhibition. In 2005 she was invited to Connecticut, USA, for an artist’s residency at the Josef Albers Foundation.
Daphne McClure passed away in 2023 at the age of 96, leaving behind her a lasting legacy which is interwoven with those fellow artists whose inspiration looked to everyday life in Cornwall from Lanyon to Nicholson amd many other St Ives luminaries. The paintings she left behind draw on that rich artistic heritage of Cornwall which so inspired her throughout her life and stand testament to her creativity, her passion for painting and her deep love of Cornwall.
Cornwall Contemporary will hold a solo exhibition of her work in 2025.
Her work is widely recognised and has become extremely desirable and found in many private collections worldwide.
Titled ‘Daphne McClure – A Cornish Perspective’, written by Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge and published by Sansom & Company, you can order the book here