Born in Richmond, Melbourne on July 29, 1901 Marguerite Henriette Mahood lived until 1989. Marguerite was the eldest child of Henry George Callaway and Marguerite Gabriella.
Marguerite had her education at Mrs Strickland’s school, Armadale, as well as the Presbystarian Ladies’ College at Melbourne. Subsequently, she went to the National Gallery School of Drawing and attended drawing classes there. She got married to Thomas Orrock George Mahood at the Independent Church on June 16 1923. Her husband Thomas was an engineer.
Academic Training Helped Developed Marguerite’s Natural Talent
Marguerite’s natural talent was aided and developed by academic training. As a result, she became an inventive and capable draughtswoman and carved a niche for herself as a professional artist in the 1920s. She produced water-colours, drawings, linocuts as well as oil paintings.
Marguerite’s early work portrayed lasting influences – think of the Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau movements. Included in her works also were tons of cartoons, illustrations and humorous stories that were featured in advertisements, books and magazines.
Marguerite became a member of the Victorian Artists Society after becoming an established watercolourist and graphic artist during the 1920s.
Subsequently, she embarked on arts exhibition frequently.
One of her notable exhibitions was in the course of the World War II, when she partnered with the Melbourne Social Realism group that featured notable personalities such as Peter Benjamin Graham, Noel Counihan, Victor O’Connor, Josi Bergner, Frank Andrew, Herbert McClintock, and Nutta Buzzacott as members.
Marguerite was among the First Women to Broadcast Her Own Radio Program in Australia
Marguerite added to her accomplishments when she had her own radio program broadcast in 1926. She was one of the first set of women in the entire Australia to accomplish such feat. In the radio program, she presented a popular discussion that focused on art and decoration every week, and the program lasted till 1929 on 3LO.
Those early days when radio and programs aired on it were popular, Marguerite gave lectures on design. Also, some of the articles used by Listerner-in Radio and its Sydney counterpart were written by Marguerite.
Her Other Lines of Arts and Extensive Pottery Work
The great artist and potter, Marguerite, was drawn to Asian and Islamic ceramics, including European commercial potteries like Sevres, Meissen and Wedgwood. She was also inspired by the late 19th century English art pottery. As a
result, she was attracted to Neo-Gothic motifs – this was evidenced by the frequent appearance of playful dragons in her work.
Her husband who was an engineer built a wheel and kiln for Marguerite, which she employed to embark on all aspects of production that included clay sieving and wedging. She also undertook the daunting task of kiln stoking which she accomplished at her backyard studio.
She pitched for a high standard of technical control and her wide selections of glazes were highly notable. According to one Herald reviewer, Marguerite was described as “outstanding among Victorian pottery workers as seen in her unique colour range…she was known as the queen of firing and glazing.”
Her works were meticulously numbered and frequently featured her unique monogram. As a result, you can never mistake Marguerite’s work for another’s. She leveraged detailed ‘kiln books’ to ensure she never repeated any mistake and continuously refined her technique and style.
Regular Exhibitions from 1932 to 1950s:Attracted Glowing Reviews
Starting from 1932 up till the 1950s, Marguerite held regular exhibitions at the Sedon Galleries. Also, she partnered with the Victorian Artist Society, the Arts and Crafts Society, and the Melbourne Society of Women Painters in some of her exhibitions. All of these great displays attracted mind-blowing reviews. Also, The Story of Australian Art by William Moore in 1934 featured this great female potter and artist.
Marguerite is one of the people that founded the Australian Ceramic Society, including the Victorian Sculptors’ Society. Subsequently, she featured articles in Australian Home beautiful – the articles pointed the right ceramic process to amateur female potters in particular.
She also wrote other articles that focused on the history of pottery as well as the Australian pottery/ceramics industry. She stopped at nothing in promoting the articles.
Marguerite’s Declining Involvement in Pottery and Ceramic
A number of factors influenced Marguerite’s decision to ease ceramic and pottery work. One of such factors was the birth of her child (son) in the year 1938. Eventually, she ceased from ceramic practice as stoneware became increasingly popular, including the changing taste in art. She also considered her age in making the decision to quit her involvement in ceramic work.
Marguerite Made Ceramics for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games Arts Festival
Before withdrawing from ceramics work, Marguerite produced ceramics (her last ceramic work actually) for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games Arts Festival. However, she did not stop producing graphic works in her lifetime.
And, in the course of the 1940s, she became a very famous children’s cartoonist under the name Margot Mahood; she focused on writing as well as illustrating the Whispering Stone.
Eventually, she resorted to further academic activities and subsequently earned Doctor of Philosophy degree, as well as Master of Arts. In 1970, popular works and articles described her as “a youthful and elegantly built woman with curly, grey hair and hazel pair of eyes.” She did not stop trailing this part until her late eighties.
Marguerite became a widow in 1977 and she died 12 years after. Her son became her survivor. In her lifetime, the Sydney Technological Museum acquired her ceramics, no other institution did.
But, after her death and up to this moment, Marguerite’s work is being held by notable institutions, including regional, state and national institutions. She was indeed a great potter, artist and ceramist to reckon with in her lifetime and even after her death.