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Jo Brocklehurst

I don’t analyse my reasons for painting my subjects. I just feel instinctively that I want to paint a particular person, it is a compulsion.

Jo (Josephine) Blanche Brocklehurst (1935 – 2006) was a powerful draughtsperson. For more than 40 years she drew people living and working at the fringes of mainstream society – punks, fetishists, actors, dancers and club-goers.

This exhibition explores Brocklehurst’s work from the 1970s onwards, made in her London studio and in the nightclubs and theatres of Berlin, London and New York.

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The streets are full of marvellous people, you’ve only got to look.

Aged 14, Jo Brocklehurst got a scholarship to attend Saint Martin’s School of Art in London. She was inspired by the life drawing classes run by Elizabeth Suter who hired unconventional performers as models. After a brief career as a fashion illustrator, Brocklehurst dedicated herself to drawing free-spirited people, unconcerned with her profile or commercial success.

Though fascinated by how people looked, Brocklehurst masked her own appearance. Her dark hair was usually covered with a blonde wig and hat and she wore up to three pairs of sunglasses at a time, even when drawing. Friends of Brocklehurst have said that her ‘disguise’ was a reaction to the prejudice she faced as a young woman on account of her British and Sri Lankan heritage.

Jo Brocklehurst in 1966, Fershid Bharucha
Courtesy of Fershid Bharucha

Miss Jacky Worp, 1978
© Blondes Fine Art