Grace Melvin, 1896-1977
Grace Melvin was born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 28, 1892, She studied at the Glasgow School of Art in the late 1920s, when the Art Nouveau Movement was at its height, under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites.
For seven years Melvin studied with the Glasgow group, joining in on educational trips to London and Paris. While in London, Melvin discovered the collection of books and manuscripts, lettered and illuminated on vellum housed in the library of the British Museum. She received special permission to make copies of some of the works, and this art form became her passion for many years.
While teaching ay the Glasgow Art School, she was a scribe for the Corporation of Glasgow, and made many illuminated addresses for prominent people. These are now in private collections, including the Queens archives.
She graduated with honours in 1916 and remained at the Glasgow School of Art where she received a post diploma with honours in 1918. Then, from 1919 to 1927, Melvin became the head of the lettering and illumination section in the Design Department at the Glasgow School of Art.
In 1927 at the request of her brother-in-law Charles H. Scott, Melvin came temporarily to Canada to head the Department of Design at the Vancouver Art School. She also taught lettering, illumination, embroidery, and pottery. Although the initial agreement was only for two years, she remained until her retirement in 1952.
She is best known for her vellum illuminations, religious scenes and altar pieces. Influenced by Art Nouveau, Melvin also painted garden, landscapes, and urban coastal scenes in watercolour, oil, and ink.
She exhibited her work at the Royal Scottish Academy, at the National Gallery of Canada between 1928 and 1934, and with the Royal Canadian Academy in 1932.
During her time in Vancouver, Melvin was involved in the formation of an artists colony on Hornby Island, B.C., exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy in 1932, and had a solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1972.
Melvin illustrated several books for Marius Barbeau, travelling with him to Alaska to get authentic information and an intimate view of the West Coast Native Americans and their legends. Grace Melvin died on March 8, 1977 at the age of eighty-four.
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, BC
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC
Burnaby Art Gallery, BC
The Feckless Collection, Vancouver, BC
Glenbow Museum, Calgary AB
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
The Queens Archives, London, UK
Basic Lettering for Art Students, 1930. London, UK
Books of Remembrance for Canadian Engineers, St. Paul's Cathedral, London, UK
llustrated several books for Marius Barbeau.
Lauder Prize for decorative art, Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (1927)