Eileen Mayo: Art, Nature and Poetry

Peter Vangioni with Jillian Cassidy
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ISBN: 978-1-877375-55-2

Hardcover with cloth quarter-binding

A captivating book on the neo-romantic wood engravings, prints and designs of Eileen Mayo.

Calling on the natural world around her for inspiration, Eileen Mayo’s extraordinary skill with line, colour and composition made her one of Britain’s foremost print artists in 1930s London, where she exhibited alongside the likes of Claude Flight, Sybil Andrews and Cyril Power.

Mayo left it all behind when, in 1953, she abandoned London for Sydney then Christchurch, each move generating a new body of work.

This is the first substantial publication on Mayo, publishing for the first time many of her exquisite neo-romantic wood engravings, prints, designs and book illustrations that continue to enthral and delight audiences.

Author: Peter Vangioni with Jillian Cassidy

Pages: 88

Dimensions: 242 x 205mm


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Collection
Springing Fern
Eileen Mayo Springing Fern

English-born Eileen Mayo excelled across a remarkable range of media, including drawing, linocuts, wood engraving, lithography, tapestry and silk screening. She also became a sought-after commercial designer, known for exquisitely detailed and balanced images that appeared on stamps and coins in Australia and New Zealand. Mayo had lived in New Zealand for twenty years when she made this screenprint of young fern fronds in the lush native bush. One of her last prints, it combines an enduring appreciation of the natural world with extraordinary technical ability, conveying not only the beauty of the plants she depicts, but a sense of their place within a complex and interconnected ecosystem.

(Unseen: The Changing Collection, 18 December 2015 – 19 June 2016)

Collection
Kōtuku / White Heron
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In the exhibition White on White (23 November 2008 - 26 October 2009), this work appeared with the following label:

The kotuku lives in other parts of the world (like Asia and the Pacific), but is very rare in New Zealand, with just one permanent population of 100 to 120 birds found near Okarito in South Westland.

In the past, their beautiful long feathers were worn as head-ornaments by important Maori leaders. Sometimes they would keep a bird in a special cage, so that when a new feather grew, someone was waiting and ready to pull it out!

This painting was one of Eileen Mayo’s original designs for a set of cards (Rare and Endangered Birds of New Zealand) collected from packets of Gregg’s jelly.

Collection
Cats in the Trees
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Cats were a particularly favourite subject of Eileen Mayo but all animal and botanical subjects were a constant source of inspiration for her. She illustrated several books on nature subjects, including the monumental The Story of Living Things and Their Evolution (1948). A major influence on Mayo was Claude Flight, under whom she studied the linocut technique at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in 1928. She exhibited regularly with the British Linocut exhibitions held in London between 1929 and 1937. Mayo emigrated to Sydney in 1953 and settled in New Zealand in 1962. She taught at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Art from 1967 to 1972.

There is an information sheet available about this work.

Collection
Turkish Bath
Eileen Mayo Turkish Bath

Eileen Mayo was invited to exhibit in the Second Exhibition of British Lino-Cuts at the Redfern Gallery in London in 1930 without having yet learned the technique. A talented young designer, illustrator and printmaker who had studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts, she received the invitation from Claude Flight, the linocut’s principal champion. Mayo met Flight, who taught in London at the Grosvenor School of Art, while working there in 1929 as a life-class model; she was reportedly instructed by him on linocut technique over the telephone.

Shown in the 1930 exhibition, Turkish Bath in its flattened space and use of decorative pattern displays the influence of the emerging art deco style, as promoted by Flight alongside futurism and cubism. Mayo moved to Australia in 1952 and ten years later to New Zealand, where she established a reputation as a significant printmaker and teacher. (In Modern Times, 18 December 2015 – 11 September 2016)

Collection
New Year
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Nature was the predominant theme in Eileen Mayo’s work throughout her distinguished career as a printmaker, painter and designer. She wrote and illustrated numerous books on subjects as varied as seashells, birdsand cats, including her monumental book The Story of Living Things and Their Evolution (1948). She was fascinated with the variety of forms and shapes of plants, and her subject in this work reflects the year of the seasons, as opposed to the calendar year, that begins with the emergence of spring flowers such as these crocuses.

The Golden Age 18 December 2015 – 1 May 2016

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Eileen Mayo has a special place in Christchurch’s art history, not only because of her extraordinary prints and illustrious career but also her tangible connections with this city. Mayo settled here in Christchurch in 1967, having established a career as a printmaker and designer in Britain and Australia. Her British contemporaries included Mabel Annesley and Clare Leighton, both of whom are included in this exhibition, and several works by these artists came into the Gallery's collection as part of a gift of British modernist prints by Redfern Gallery director Rex Nan Kivell.

Mayo adored cats. They were a constant source of companionship throughout her life and were regularly used as subjects in her art.

The Golden Age 18 December 2015 – 1 May 2016

Exhibition
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