Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Mary Adshead (1904 - 1995)   BIOGRAPHY

Study for mural for tea room, Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, c.1949
Unmounted (ref: 5402)

gouache over pencil on card,
27 x 26 cm (10 1/2 x 10 3/8 in.)


Luton Hoo, in Bedfordshire, owned by Sir Harold and Lady Zia Wernher,  was opened to the public in 1950.  Adshead was commissioned to decorate the restaurant in 1949.  Part, but not all, of her mural still exists.  Through the use of trompel'oeil Adshead's  design plays on the landscape in which Luton Hoo stands with far reaching fanciful views beyond.

A contemporary account, (quoted by Ann Compton in Earthly Delights, Mary Adshead, University of Liverpool Art Gallery, 2005, p. 54) describes entering the restaurant:

As the door opens, we have the illusion of stepping into a cool marquee, airy and balloon-like, as we look out, under the awnings, into a land and land and seascape of the artist's imagining.  The extraordinary thing is that there is no feeling of being constricted within four wall the design has the effect of dissolving them away.

Mary Adshead (1904 - 1995)

English mural painter and designer trained at The Slade where she won joint first prize with Rex Whistler in 1924. They both went on to work on their own murals at the Highways boys club in Shadwell. Many important mural commissions followed throughout her long life. She also designed UK postage stamps, illustrated books and exhibited easel pictures in at The New English Art Club and Royal Academy. Her paintings are in many public gallery collections including The Tate , The Graves Art gallery Sheffield, The Imperial War Museum, Manchester City Art Gallery The London Transport Museum and The University Art gallery Liverpool. There are also several surviving mural paintings. An exhibition of her work was held at The University of Liverpool Art Gallery 21 January till 29 April 2005, Graves Art Gallery Sheffield 25 Jun-17 Sept 2005 and Kingston-upon-Thames Art Gallery 1 Oct - 19 Nov 2005. An illustrated catalogue is available from The University of Liverpool Art Gallery. 6 Abercromby Sq. Liverpool L69 7WY.

See all works by Mary Adshead