May Grigg

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May Grigg was born in 1885 and died in 1969. She studied with Harry P. Gill, Hans Heyson and Margaret Preston. [1]


The daughter of music teacher Thomas Grigg and Rachel (nee Worthley), Mabel (May) Grigg was born at Hindmarsh in 1885. She was one of a number of early women artists in Adelaide who are largely overlooked, but did much good work in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[2]

May began her art studies at the South Australian School of Design under Harry Gill, and in 1904 became Hans Heysen's first art student. She followed her three years of study under Heysen with European travel, before returning to Adelaide and studying under Rose McPherson (Margaret Preston). May set up a flat and studio in the old YMCA building on the corner of Gawler Place and Grenfell Street, and following the death of her mother in 1913 she was joined here by her musician father and sister. She took students and exhibited her work with the Society of Arts. In 1921 May was inaugural winner of the Alexander Melrose prize for portraiture with a life size portrait of her father. The Mail wrote, "The artist has not endeavoured to impart inspiration into the canvas. It shows Mr Grigg just as his friends know him, and that, after all, is the high charm of portraiture." (Mail, 26 November 1921, p. 1) She won the award again the following year, with a portrait of the well known artist James Ashton.[3]

From 1915 to 1930, May was a council member at the Royal South Australian Society of Arts, and was later made a Fellow of the Society. In 1923 she joined the United Arts Club. May left Adelaide in 1930 to take up a senior teaching position at the Ballarat Technical Art School, a division of the Ballarat School of Mines, [4] where she taught from 1931 to 1947. [5] In her retirement May Grigg returned to Adelaide, where she died in 1969.[6]


Ballarat Technical Art School

Works Produced

Although mostly known for her portraits, May Grigg also produced landscapes, and worked in a range of media including monotype and linocut prints, pastels, charcoal, china painting, clay modelling and pottery.[7]


Self portrait from May Grigg's Ballarat School of Mines era -

See also

Ballarat School of Mines

Ballarat Technical Art School

Further Notes


  1. Peers, Juliett, More than Just Gumtrees, Melbourne Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, 1993.
  2., accessed 04 September 2015.
  3., accessed 04 September 2015.
  4., accessed 04 September 2015.
  5. Peers, Juliett, More than Just Gumtrees, Melbourne Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, 1993.
  6., accessed 04 September 2015.
  7., accessed 04 September 2015.

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