Margaret Mellis

  1914-2009

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White Buildings

White Buildings

Hollyhock and Marigold

Hollyhock and Marigold

Margaret Mellis studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1929-33. Was taught by S.J. Peploe. She acquired Painting Diploma, Maclaine Watters Medal for Colour, Andrew Grant Post Graduate Award and won a travelling scholarship which took her to Paris where she studied with Andre L'Hote, and also to Spain and Italy. Mellis acquired a Fellowship, Edinburgh College of Art and also attended Euston Road School, London for one year. In 1939 she moved to Cornwall with her husband, the critic and painter, Adrian Stokes, whom she had met in 1938. Here she became part of the community of avant-garde artists living and working in and around St Ives. Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth lived briefly with Mellis and her husband Adrain Stokes in 1939. Both became very much central figures in the St Ives group of artists. Mellis became inspired and impressed by the work of Nicholson and Naum Gabo in the early 1940s which lead her to experiment with 'constructivist' collages. After the war and the break-up of her marriage, Mellis returned to painting with a series of works dating from around 1949 to 1952. For three years from 1948 she lived with her second husband the artist Francis Davison in a chateau in Antibes. The works range from window landscapes to cadell-like still lifes and the later pieces show a more decorative abstraction. In the early to mid 1950s, her style moved to; between a soft, but high-colour abstraction and a darker more tonal stylized figuration. Also in the mid 50s, Mellis was experimenting with pure abstraction. In all of her work, Mellis shows a profound respect for an object in its own right and great sensitivity to her materials. In 1976 she moved to Southwold and her response to her materials and respect for the work's integrity are greatly borne upon in the superb wooden constructions that she has put most of her creative attention to since around 1980. These are made from driftwood pieces and objects she has found and collected from Southwold beach and then bought together in colour and textures. Mellis has had numerous one-man shows, The A.I.A. Gallery, London 1958, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh 1959, The Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford, 1968, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh,1970, Redfern Gallery, London, 1987 amongst others. Group shows to name but a few, are : New Movements in Art, Contemporary Work in England, London Museum, Lancaster House, 1942. British Section of the International Guggenheim Award, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Brighton, Manchester, 1958. 1966, Ulster Museum, Belfast and Dublin. 1967, Edinburgh Open 100. 1978, 'Objects' V&A Museum. 1985 St Ives, Tate Gallery. 1986 Olympia Internation Art Fair, Redfern Gallery. Works in many Public Collections, The Tate Gallery, London, The V&A, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, The Arts Council of great Britain amongst many others.