Mary Martin (artist)

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Mary Adela Martin
Photo of Mary Martin (artist).jpg
Mary Balmford

(1907-11-16)16 November 1907
Folkestone, United Kingdom
Died9 October 1969(1969-10-09) (aged 61)
London, United Kingdom
EducationUniversity of London, Royal College of Art
Known forPainting, Sculpture
MovementAbstract Art
Kenneth Martin
m. 1930)

Mary Adela Martin (née Balmford) (1907–1969) was a British artist best known for geometric abstract painting and for her collaborations with her husband Kenneth Martin.[1]


Martin née Balmford was born on 16 November 1907 in Folkestone, United Kingdom.[2] She studied at Goldsmiths' College, London from 1925 to 1929 and at the Royal College of Art from 1929 to 1932 where she met and married Kenneth Martin in 1930. She exhibited at the A.I.A. from 1934, mainly as a still-life and landscape painter, using her maiden name. During the war Mary taught drawing, design and weaving at Chelmsford School of Art from 1941 to 1944 but gave this up when she became pregnant with her first child.[3]

Along with her husband, Mary Martin moved towards pure abstraction in the late 1940s painting her first abstract picture in 1950, made her first reliefs in 1951 and her first free-standing construction in 1956. Kenneth and Mary collaborated on the Environment section of the seminal exhibition This Is Tomorrow.[4] Mary Martin participated in group exhibitions of constructed art in England and abroad, notably Konkrete Kunst, Zürich 1960, and Experiment in Constructie, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1962. Martin designed a screen for the Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast (1957), reliefs for the Orient Line's S.S. Oriana (1960) and a wall construction for the University of Stirling.[5][6]

Martin was the joint winner of the 1969 John Moores Painting Prize along with Richard Hamilton.[7] She was the first woman to receive that prize.[6]

Martin died on 9 October 1969 in London.[2]

In 1984 the Tate Gallery held retrospective of her work. In 2007 the Camden Arts Centre held an exhibition of Mary and Kenneth Martin's work.[6]


  1. ^ "Biography for Mary Adela Martin". AskArt. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Martin [née Balmford], Mary Adela (1907–1969), artist". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-64409. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Mary Martin - Tate". Tate.
  4. ^ Phaidon Editors (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 268. ISBN 0714878774.
  5. ^ Paintings by or after Mary Martin, Art UK
  6. ^ a b c Morineau, Camille. "Mary Martin". AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  7. ^ "Cross by Mary Martin (1907-1969)". Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums.