I first saw Helen Clapcott’s paintings at a friend’s home in Surrey. They immediately caught my eye; there was something quintessentially English about them, something of the quietude, tonality and beauty of the work of Eric Ravilious and of course one cannot help but be reminded of LS Lowry because of the subject matter. But apart from the topography (Lowry regularly visited Stockport and painted the viaduct amongst other locations) and both being Northerners, there is little in common. There is no impasto in Clapcott’s painting, no bold expressionist gestures – not possible with egg tempera painting which requires total control and precision.
Over the past thirty years Clapcott has painted these delightfully obsessive works, depicting the mutation and evolution of a once industrial valley, now a commuter corridor. Stockport has been dominated by ‘the three Rs’ — river, rail and road — and now boasts a motorway, a congestion of roundabouts, slip roads and even a pyramid.
One of the few artists working in egg tempera, Helen Clapcott’s paintings have been continuously researched through drawing on location, each taking many months of meticulous work. They are not critical, nor do they defend a cause or corner. They are a celebration of light, and show a deep appreciation of a uniquely idiosyncratic urban landscape.
It has been ten years since her first show in London and we are delighted to welcome her back and hopefully to find a wider audience for this exceptional painter.
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