Margaret Mellis: Modernist Constructs
In 1939, aware of impending war, the artists Margaret Mellis and her husband Adrian Stokes relocated from London to St Ives in Cornwall. Their move would become a significant catalyst in the formation of The St Ives School, which also included Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham, who had followed them to St Ives. The school is heavily aligned with the story of British Modernism, with many of the artists becoming well-known. Margaret Mellis however remains largely overlooked.
This exhibition draws from Mellis’ extensive repertoire of work, spanning her career and illuminating the breadth of her practice and underlying narratives: it brings together her early experiments in collage under the guidance of Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo in the 1940s, the vibrant abstracts of the 1950s and 1960s (reminiscent to those of her friend and contemporary William Gear), and the contemplative, yet playful driftwood constructions that dominated the final twenty years of her practice.
The strength of Mellis’ work lies in her confident and relentless exploration of colour and form both on canvas and through her re-appropriation of objects. Modernist Constructs introduces and reveals Mellis’ artistic accomplishments, whilst aligning her within the British Modernist movement.
Image: Margaret Mellis, Fisherman, 1990-91. Courtesy of The Redfern Gallery