Mary Fedden

Mary Fedden

Born in Bristol in 1915, Mary Fedden studied at the Slade School of Art in London from 1932 to 1936 and during the war painted sets for the Arts Theatre in Great Newport Street, London.  At the end of the war, Fedden began to paint in earnest developing her own personal style which owed much to the influence of the French and Russian modernists.  In 1951 she married the British artist Julian Trevelyan and they devoted themselves to art and travel.  Her paintings throughout the 1950s were greatly influenced by her husband and they collaborated on a number of occasions often being commissioned to paint murals together.

By the start of the 1960s, Fedden was beginning to formulate her own unique style using pure, vibrant colours.  From 1958 to 1964 she was a tutor at the Royal College of Art where her pupils included David Hockney and Allen Jones, then from 1965 until 1970, she taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School at Cobham in Surrey.

Mary Fedden was best known for her bold, vivid still lifes and her colourful views of Italy and North Africa.  Her work was touched by a unique naïveté and she will remain one of Britain’s best loved artists.  She continued to work from the studio in Hammersmith that she shared with her husband (who died in 1988) well into her nineties.

Biographical Chronology

Born in Bristol on 14th August

Commenced studies at the Slade School of Art, London, where she was inspired by her tutor, Vladimir Polunin and met Julian Trevelyan for the first time

Graduated from Slade School of Art, London and returned to her native Bristol to teach

Moved to London and joined the Land Army and the Women’s Voluntary Service

Called up and sent to Europe as a driver for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes

Returned to London, buying a house in Redcliffe Road with Maise Meiklejohn

First one-woman exhibition at the Mansard Gallery in Heal’s Department Store, which led to a three year commission to paint the covers of Woman magazine

Travelled through Europe with the artist Julian Trevelyan. On their return to London they settled together in Trevelyan’s home and studio by the Thames at Durham Wharf, Chiswick

Married Julian Trevelyan
Painted a mural for the children’s section in the Television pavilion on the South Bank at the Festival of Britain

Taught at the Royal College of Art, London where she was the first female tutor in the Painting School, her pupils including David Hockney, Allen Jones and Patrick Caulfield

Commissioned to paint a mural for the P&O liner Canberra

Taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Surrey

Painted mural for Charing Cross Hospital with Julian Trevelyan

President of Royal West of England Academy, Bristol

Painted a mural for Colindale Hospital

Death of Julian Trevelyan

Elected Royal Academician in the Senior Order

Publication of Mary Fedden written by Mel Gooding

Received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Bath

Awarded OBE

Publication of Mary Fedden. Enigmas and Variations by Christopher Andreae

Died in Chiswick on 22nd June

Select Bibliography

Mel Gooding, Mary Fedden, Scolar Press, 1995

Christopher Andreae, Mary Fedden, Enigmas and Variations, Lund Humphries, 2007

José Manser, Mary Fedden and Julian Trevelyan: Life and Art by the River Thames, Unicorn Press Ltd, London, 2012

Illustrated books

Suzannah Amoore, Motley the Cat, Viking, London, 1997

Jane Gardam, The green man: an eternity, The Windrush Press, Moreton-in-Marsh, 1998

Mary Fedden with foreword by Mel Gooding, Birds, The Windrush Press, Moreton-in-Marsh, 1999