Margaret Mellis British, 1914-2009

As a student at Edinburgh School of Art from 1929 to 1933 Margaret Mellis won two awards. She continued her training in Paris under Andre Lhote, making a particular study of color. There she met the artist Adrian Stokes, whom she married in 1938 and moved with the following year to Little Park Owles. Carbis Bay, near St Ives.

Mellis began to make collages at the suggestion of Ben Nicholson, who had arrived in St Ives with Barbara Hepworth in 1939. Sobranie Collage {1942, Tate) is constructed out of a mixture of papers, printed pieces (a tobacco lid and a label for woolen underwear), and pattern drawn by the artist herself. These are arranged in an abstract geometric composition that indicates Mellis's knowledge of modern French art. In the same year Nicholson included her work in the exhibition New Movements in Art: Contemporary Work in England, at the Museum of London. Mellis continued her work as a constructivist in reliefs such as Construction in Wood (1941, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh).

In her work on women in St Ives (published in K. Deepwell m Artists and Modernism, Manchester 1998}. Nedira Yakir characterized Mellis's art as 'explorations of color, time, space and fragility', from her early collages to her later paintings of flowers such as Blue Anemone (1957. Tate), and the driftwood objects she has made since the late 1970s. Venues for Mellis's solo exhibitions have included the Artists' International Association London (1958), The University Anglia, Norwich (1967), and the Austin Gallery, London (1987). The catalogue essay for her show in 2001 at Austin Desmond Fine Art, London and the Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall was written by Damien Hirst, who recalled admiring her work and visiting her studio as a student, and protested at her continuing obscurity, asking why hasn't someone noticed Margaret Mellis's contribution to British Art?'aphy needed