Melvin, Grace (1892-1977)

Name: Melvin, Grace (1892-1977)


Historical Note:

Grace Melvin (1892-1977) born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 28, 1892, studied at the Glasgow School of Art between 1907-1918. As a day pupil she studied Drawing and Painting, Design and attended Life classes. She studied embroidery under Ann Macbeth (1875-1948).

Melvin was later to become a member of staff at GSA, between 1920/1-1928/9. During this time her roles included the teaching of: lettering and illumination (Design and Decorative Art), 1920/21; lettering and illumination (Pictorial Design and methods of production), 1926/27; and the history of lettering and illumination, 1926/27.

Whilst in London, Melvin discovered the collection of ancient books and manuscripts, lettered and illuminated on vellum housed at 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. At this time, whilst teaching at GSA, she was a scribe for the Corporation of Glasgow, and made many illuminated addresses for prominent people.

After seven years on the staff of the Glasgow School of Art, Melvin was given a two year leave of absence to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia to help organize the Design section of the new School of Art. She resigned from the Glasgow School and remained with the Vancouver School of Art until her retirement, as Head of the Department of Design, in 1952, after which time she became a full time painter. Grace Melvin's Basic Lettering for Art Students was published in 1927 in London and is still used. She has also illustrated and written books on lettering and design for the Department of Education of British Columbia. Later, she was commissioned to make The Books of Remembrance for the Canadian Engineers, which can be seen in St. Pauls Cathedral, London. 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 8th March 1977.

Sources:

Glasgow School of Art student registers and annual reports

Vancouver Art Gallery: http://www.memorybc.ca/grace-melvin-fonds;rad





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