Collecting Scottish Women Artists

It was exciting to announce that Margaret Morris’s portrait of her pupil and assistant Flossie Jolley has been acquired by The Fleming Collection, in an article I have written for the Scottish Women and the Arts Research Network (SWARN).

Margaret Morris (1891-1980), Flossie Jolley, oil on canvas, 39.5 x 27cm
© The International Margaret Morris Movement Ltd

Margaret Morris (1891-1980)

Margaret Morris was born in London in 1891. She began her stage career aged three years old and trained as a dancer from the age of six. She went on to develop her own dance technique, Margaret Morris Movement and opened the first of her schools in 1910. Three years later she took her troupe to Paris, where she met the Scottish Colourist John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961); their resultant personal and professional relationship was to last until his death in 1961. Fergusson encouraged Morris to paint, in addition to her set and costume design, whilst she and her pupils provided models and subject matter for his practice.

Flossie Jolley

Flossie Jolley was one of the original members of Morris’s first touring company of ‘Dancing Children’, established in 1910. She was to remain with Morris until at least 1918, taking on choreography and teaching responsibilities. A 1911 pencil sketch by Morris of Jolley and fellow dancer Kathleen Dillon (1898-1990) is in the collection of The Fergusson Gallery, Perth ( MM407), which is dedicated to Morris and Fergusson’s creative legacy. Jolley and Dillon were praised in reviews of Morris’s productions, including being described as ‘gentle zephyrs blowing across the stage in veils of blue and grey’ in The Pall Mall Gazette of 27 November 1912.

The Fleming Collection

The Fleming Collection celebrates Scottish art and creativity through exhibitions and other events, publications and educational intiatives. Its collection of Scottish art encompasses some 600 works, covering the period from the seventeenth century to the present day. Their exhibition, Scottish Women Artists: Transforming Tradition, can be seen at the Sainsbury Centre for Art, Norwich until 4 September 2022 and is accompanied by the book Scottish Women Artists by Charlotte Rostek. Morris’s portrait of Flossie Jolley has therefore gone to a very good home.

Scottish Women and the Arts Research Network

I am pleased to be a member of SWARN, which was founded in 2018. It encourages and promotes research on the work of historic women artists, designers, makers and collectors in Scottish collections. My article for them, called ‘Collecting Scottish Women Artists’, can be found here. My research is indebted to Richard Emerson, author of Rhythm and Colour: Hélène Vanel, Loïs Hutton and Margaret Morris and Amy Fairley, Collections Officer (Art), Culture Perth and Kinross.

For more about Morris and Fergusson, please follow this link. I wrote about the 30th anniversary of The Fergusson Gallery in this article. One of several features I have written about The Fleming Collection can be found here.

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