In 1952 Eileen Mayo left England bound for Australia to generate interest amongst Australian galleries to exhibit British tapestries. She was backed in this venture by Lord Robert-Crichton-Stuart, the owner of the Dovecot Studio, and Ronald Cruickshank the director of a tapestry company. Mayo had been inspired by the exhibition "Masterpieces of French Tapestry" which she saw at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 1947. As a result she travelled to France to re-examine the historic tapestries at the Musee Cluny and Angers and the following year returned to study at the Tabard Ateliers at Aubusson where she was instructed by Jean Lurçart, the leading exponent of French tapestry design at that time.
In 1949 she produced a number of cartoons and gouaches for tapestry designs and Fish and Seaweed is probably one of these that was subsequently not woven. At the Tapestry Company where her well known tapestry 'Echinoderms' was woven designers were restricted to a palette of 30 colours. Every change of tone and colour had to be outlined and numbered on the cartoon. 'Fish and Seaweed' shows this outlining of colour very clearly. You can also see her use of horizontal and vertical elements to balance the compositions and to emphasise both the vertical thread and the horizontal weft.
* Please note, this artwork is located in Texas USA so there will be freight, packing and any duties to pay should you be successful in winning this auction.
Eileen Mayo was born in London and trained in the classical tradition of drawing at the Slade School of Art, graduating in 1924. She also attended the Grosvenor School of Modern Art (1929) and was influenced by printmaker, Claude Flight, exhibiting in the British Lino exhibitions from 1927 to 1938.
She emigrated to Australia in 1953 and quickly established a reputation as an outstanding printmaker and designer. In 1956 she was employed by the Australian National Travel Association to create travel posters of Australia which are much loved to this day. She also illustrated books, wrote for Australian and English periodicals and designed distinctive Australian postage stamps and coins (1959-1962). In their decorative, elegant and thoughtful designs, Mayo’s works reveal the influence of her classical training and a particularly English aesthetic. As a conservationist and committed Christian her subject matter and meticulous attention to detail demonstrated a reverence and faith in the natural world and all its manifestations.
Although she moved to New Zealand to join her mother in 1962, Mayo continued to receive commissions from both countries and was created a Dame of the British Empire in the New Year's Honours List in 1994. Eileen Mayo’s work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
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Private collection Texas. By descent, the current owners stepfather was Mr Ronald Cruickshank, a tapestry weaver and designer. He wove his own designs and other artists designs, so this painting by Mayo was no doubt a design that she had done for Mr Cruickshank to possibly weave into a tapestry.
Note: See the additional photographs above for copies of a letter that Mayo sent to Mr Cruickshank.
Signature and Inscriptions
Signed lower right in brushpoint: MAYO
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Artwork Location: Texas, USA
Artwork Dimensions (including frame, if applicable): 56 x 60 x 3 cm
Artwork Weight: 10 KG
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