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Monday, 27 December, 1999, 12:28 GMT
Quiet genius of art dies

One of Miss Clough's award-winning works


Reclusive artist Prunella Clough has died after a long battle with cancer, it has been announced.

Miss Clough, of Chelsea, south west London, died on Sunday at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. She was 80.

In a career spanning six decades she shunned publicity and was once described as "the best kept secret in British art".


Prunella Clough: Revered by fellow painters
But despite her determination to stay out of the limelight, her talent was recognised this year when she won the prestigious 30,000 Jerwood Prize for Painting for three abstract oil on canvas paintings.

The prize, which Miss Clough described as a reward "for a lifetime's grafting", is the most valuable awarded to a single artist in the UK.

And true to her generous nature, she promptly gave the money away to struggling artists.



Miss Clough, the niece of pioneering architect and designer Eileen Gray, lived a modest life - once described as "hermit-like existence" - in her Fulham studio in south west London.

Abstract work

She attended the Chelsea Art School from 1938, with Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland among her teachers.

She drew charts, graphs and maps for the London-based US Office of War Information during the war and also created several much-acclaimed paintings of bombsites and wasteland.

In the 1950s, she travelled the country making solid, unsentimental pictures of working people and urban and industrial landscapes.

But over the years her work became more abstract, using unusual objects.

And though she was little known among the general public, she was highly revered by her fellow painters.

After Miss Clough was awarded the Jerwood prize in October, Dr Judith Collins of the Tate Gallery, one of the judges for the award, said: ''Her paintings have a reticence about them. They have a quietness, and then they suddenly come up and catch you by the heel.

"She likes black bin liners and bits of lino that have fallen off the back of lorries - odd, urban subject matter.

"She once said: 'I like to say a small thing edgily'."

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See also:
22 Sep 99 |  Entertainment
Top prize for art world recluse
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