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Studio International reviews 'inspiring' Mellis retrospective

November 9, 2021

Margaret Mellis: Modernist Constructs at Towner Eastbourne is an "inspiring" and "carefully considered" exhibition, according to a recent review by Beth Williamson, of Studio International.


Works in many diverse media, produced across six decades, are on show, from early abstract collages to the later envelope drawings, but the main focus of the exhibition is on the "wonderfully evocative" driftwood constructions, which Mellis made continuously from the late 1970s onwards.


"There is a lot to cover, and this relatively small exhibition does it beautifully", writes Williamson. Encouraged by her friend Ben Nicholson to experiment with abstract collage, the early collages made by Mellis in the early 1940s are described as "exemplary of St Ives modernism", and possessing "faultless formal qualities".


The driftwood constructions, meanwhile, "point to Mellis's resourcefulness and creative eye for the lost and discarded objects of this world". 


Williamson also refers to the envelope drawings of flowers as "a revelation ... these exquisite drawings bring together her joy of colour alongside a fascination for decay, proving that both can be explored simultaneously and still create work that is uplifting".


Williamson concludes that the exhibition "leaves the viewer feeling they have learned something new (I certainly did), but still wanting to know more, inspired to look again at her work and better understand its significance".


Margaret Mellis: Modernist Constructs runs at Towner Eastbourne from 16 October - 30 January 2022.