Over the last ten years Clio David, daughter of 20th Century British artist Yasmin David, has unearthed hundreds of pieces from around the family’s farm, which are going on display at The New Art Gallery in Walsall, in an exhibition that opens on Saturday.
Yasmin, who died in 2009, was the niece of Kathleen Garman, benefactor to the New Art Gallery, and the daughter of her youngest sister, Lorna Wishart, and the poet Laurie Lee.
Her brother, Michael Wishart, was an acclaimed painter, who exhibited widely, but Yasmin’s work has never before been seen by the public.
Yasmin was one of the few British women working in landscape painting during the post-war priod and produced a body of work that is regarded as both intimate and dramatic, emotional and turbulent, and which captures the molten qualities of sky and land.
While compelled to paint and write continuously throughout her life, producing a significant body of work over 50 years, she did not exhibit her work publicly.
Since her death her daughter, the filmmaker Clio David, has discovered more than 200 unseen paintings and more than 150 drawings and notebooks, hidden in cupboards and in her mother’s studio at the family home in rural Devon; many of which were only uncovered during last summer’s lockdown.
A selection of these will be seen for the first time in the exhibition at The New Art Gallery, which will run from July 3 until the end of the year.
Yasmin was the daughter of Lorna Wishart, née Garman, the youngest of the beautiful and unconventional Garman sisters, and muse for both Laurie Lee and Lucian Freud.
She was born during Lorna’s affair with Lee, whom she met while he played his violin on a beach in Cornwall.
Yasmin was brought up by Lorna and her husband, Ernest Wishart, only finding out the identity of her biological father at the age of 19.
Her aunt, Lorna’s sister, was Kathleen Garman, the second wife of sculptor Jacob Esptein, whose art collection The New Art Gallery was built to house.
Clio said: “She loved to watch the windy, watery, ever-changing light and seasons, which she painted mainly from her memory, but also kept a notebook which she wrote in nearly every day."
The exhibition aims to shine the spotlight on Yasmin and her incredible artistic output, and to place her work in the context of her wider family in the Garman Ryan Collection.
Organisers of the exhibition hope it will open up the debate around re-discovering 20th century female artists.