The Modern Women Artists series

The Modern Women Artists series of collectable books reveals an alternative history of art, telling the story of important female artists whose art might otherwise be overlooked, overshadowed or forgotten. Working across a range of disciplines and artistic styles in the first half of the twentieth century, all of the women included in this series were modern. Read together, these books begin to redress the untold history of modern art, connecting stories of female creativity which the history books have all too often left out.

Model turned artist: Sara Cooper on Eileen Mayo

Eileen Mayo (1906–94) was a dedicated and multi-talented artist – at once a painter, print-maker, tapestry designer, engraver and illustrator, who also successfully turned her hand to wood-engraving, calligraphy, lithography and lino-cutting.

Her role as an artist’s model – for Laura Knight, Dod Proctor and others – sparked a lifetime’s dedication to her work, which would in turn win international acclaim and lead to a successful career over many decades.

Mayo was enraptured by the natural world she saw around her; the flora, fauna and people she encountered proved a constant source of inspiration, both in England in the 1930s to 1940s, and later in her adopted homelands of Australia and New Zealand.

This book charts Mayo’s extraordinary oeuvre, introducing this all-but-forgotten name to a new generation, and celebrating the artistic legacy she left behind.


Sara Cooper is Head of Collections and Exhibitions at Towner Eastbourne, where she is responsible for the exhibition programme and for the permanent collection, including overseeing acquisitions. She has curated numerous exhibitions including John Nash: The Landscape of Love and Solace (2021) and its forerunner, Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship (2017) (both created in collaboration with Andy Friend), as well as David Nash: 200 Seasons (2019), Phoebe Unwin: Iris (2019), Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter (2014) and Harold Mockford: A Retrospective of a Sussex Painter (2012), for which she also produced and wrote the accompanying exhibition catalogue. Previously she was Curator at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich. She has two MAs from the University of East Anglia in Museology and in Modern European Art, and a BA (hons) in Linguistics and Art History.

Hosted by:

Harriet Olsen is the founder of Eiderdown Books. She established the independent publishing house specialising in books about women artists after more than a decade in museum publishing (and having lost count of the number of books she’d produced about male artists). Harriet is also Head of Publishing at Pallant House Gallery in Sussex.

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Nov 24th 2023 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

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