[expositie] Jo Brocklehurst – Untitled (blue punk)

Jo Brocklehurst: Untitled (blue punk)
by Jessica Rosen

Jo Brocklehurst was born in the 1930s, but kept her exact age a secret throughout her life. She was raised in Dorset, England and gained a scholarship to Central Saint Martins at the age of 14, learning to draw at an extraordinary pace. She was an artist truly dedicated to her craft, drawing every single day. Brocklehurst is known for her bold, striking appearance yet her shy and mysterious demeanor. Brocklehurst experienced prejudice in her life, feeling she was never “British enough” due to her mixed ethnicity, half British and half Sri Lankan. Some believe this led to her affinity for depicting outsiders, having always felt like one. Brocklehurst’s work started as fashion illustration, and in the 1960s Brocklehurst sketched jazz musicians. However, her most famous work is from the 1970s and 80s, in which she drew the lively European club scene, especially the punk scene and London fetish clubs. She captured the beauty in the counterculture she witnessed, its characters, and their elaborate dress, often bending gender expectations. She highlighted subcultures when the art world was scared to go near it, never compromising or toning herself down to the “pretty pictures” expected of women artists at the time. Additionally, Brocklehurst excelled in rapidly capturing body movement, and also recorded ballet and theater throughout her career. Brocklehurst’s major breakthrough in her career was at the ICA’s exhibition Women’s Images of Men (1980), whereafter her reputation grew. Brocklehurst’s style is immediately recognizable: her expressive lines and bright colors draw in the viewer. In her portraits, she is able to depict a person’s character beyond just what is obvious to the eye. Brocklehurst breaks down the stereotypes associated with alternative culture: she captures its lively, rebellious spirit, daring to show it as beautiful.