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Margaret Mellis: A Life in Colour to Open at The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts
Margaret Mellis, Still Life with Chianti Bottle c.1951-53. Private Collection © the artist, 2008. Photo: Pete Huggins, Camera Techniques.

NORWICH.- A Life in Colour will include a selection of works which span Mellis's career, from the early representational works, to the abstract reliefs through to the driftwood constructions.

Margaret Mellis was born of Scottish parents in China in 1914, and moved to Britain as a baby. She was educated at Edinburgh College of Art between 1929-33, after which she received a postgraduate award and scholarship which allowed her to travel to Paris. From 1935-7, Mellis held a fellowship at Edinburgh College of Art before studying at Euston Road School.

In 1939, with her first husband, writer and painter Adrian Stokes, she moved to St Ives, Cornwall where they both became central figures in the St Ives group of artists which included Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo. Mellis's career was heavily influenced by her experiences in St Ives. From 1939, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, along with their family, lived with Mellis and Stokes. Mellis was encouraged by Nicholson to move away from representational painting and to experiment with collage and relief, prompting her to 'think in a different way, not in colour which was natural to me'. In 1948, Mellis re-married to the artist Francis Davison and after a brief time in post-war France, she settled in Suffolk in 1950 where she has sinced lived and worked.

A 60-minute film on the life and career of Margaret Mellis will be premiered in conjunction with the exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre. Directed and produced by Sue Giovanni and Jules Hussey, this film features the voice of Susannah York.

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