The couple’s daughter Kate followed in her parents’ footsteps and graduated from the GSA this summer.
The time this summer between Kate’s graduation and her relocation to London to pursue a Masters degree in painting at the prestigious Royal College of Art has been spent curating an exhibition with her parents, which shows off the family’s artistic genes.
Kate believes the influence of her artistic parents can be seen in her work: “My work is mixed media and that’s probably because I have been influenced by both my parents, subconsciously. The pieces I create combine painting, mark, pattern and gesture and look at how the fragmented nature of experience and memory create place.”
Held at Greengallery in Buchlyvie, the Stirling village where Lorna grew up, the exhibition marks the first time the McLenaghans have put on an exhibition together.
After John and Lorna graduated back in the 80s, John had set up his own studio in Stirling’s Tolbooth, where he spent three years painting and running workshops.
Just as his daughter is set to do, John then moved down south where he began a teaching job in York.
He always kept up his love of painting while he taught at art schools across England and Wales. In his current post teaching Fine Art at Wrexham School of Art, part of the University of Wrexham in North Wales, John has been part time since 2020 which has allowed him to focus on his own painting, some of which is on display at the Greengallery exhibition.
Through John’s work, it is not just the lives of the three being told, but also those of the McLenaghans who came before them. John says: “I am descended from farmers and my paintings of the land and the sea, which are expressive and gestural, allow me to relate experience and reconnect with history, particularly my family history.
“There is no doubt that Scotland is still very much my home and it’s where I still make most of my work.”
Lorna followed a career in museums after the pair had left Glasgow School of Art, before taking a break from work when Kate and her younger brother Peter were born.
She returned to education the year before Kate began at the Glasgow School of Art, starting an MA in Art Practice in Wrexham, where she and her husband continue to live and share a studio.
During her studies in Wrexham, Lorna became interested in painting patterns and motifs, which can be seen in her hometime exhibition.
Lorna describes what has become one of the focus points of her art: “Whereas often people see pattern as background, for me it’s the subject. I find the language of pattern, and the possibilities it holds, endlessly inspiring.”
On what it means to share an exhibition space with her husband and daughter back in the town where she grew up, Lorna said: “We’re all really looking forward to the exhibition and for me, growing up in Buchlyvie where my mum was the postmistress, the place is very special. I am sure seeing all of our work hanging together in the same space will be very emotional and a real eye-opener.
Becky Walker, who runs the Greengallery said: “I have exhibited John’s paintings before but when I saw Lorna and Kate’s work I was struck by both the similarity and differences.
“All three clearly stem from The Glasgow School of Art’s Colourist tradition but they have unique approaches.
“John’s use of paint, which is considered yet spontaneous, captures the process of time and change harnessing the fluidity of the medium and often telling a story of his engagement with a place.
“Lorna’s painting is concerned with surface, shape and texture, as she merges and layers colour and pattern. Her wallpaper designs combine the historical and the contemporary.
“Kate has undoubtedly inherited her parents’ use of colour although her style is completely her own and feels very fresh.
In a world where we’re all very interested in delving into family history, I thought an exhibition highlighting a family’s artistic DNA would make a fascinating show.”
The McLenaghan’s exhibition opens this Sunday 10 September at the Greengallery and will run until Sunday 8 October.