Completed in 1975 when the artist was living in rural Norfolk, the abstract geometry of Marsh White
demonstrates Mellis’s mastery of composition. It’s also a testament to the artist’s handling of colour – something she was well known for. Mellis commented that the white area at the bottom left of the picture was ‘like a snow field’ and the orange area at the top was ‘like a sunset on a marsh’.
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas on oil paint on hardboard 39.9 x 42.5 cm © The estate of Margaret Mellis
Margaret Mellis was one of the founding members of the St Ives group of artists that settled on the Cornish peninsula in the post-war period. She grew up in East Lothian and studied in Edinburgh and London before moving to Cornwall in 1939. She was inspired to create small scale abstractions by the artists Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, creating geometric collages and paintings that demonstrated remarkable handling of colour. After moving to Norfolk in the 1950s with her second husband, she pursued abstraction with renewed vigour, later turning to sculptural constructions from driftwood.