Percy Grainger’s autobiographical Museum in Melbourne, Australia was designed to present and interpret life experiences in the context of the creative process. One of the Museum’s founding principles is the concept that one needs to become familiar with the ‘culturizing influence of parents, relatives, wives, husbands and friends’ in order to understand the creative process of an individual’. For this reason Percy Grainger ensured that his wife Ella’s personal belongings were incorporated into the collection.
The Ella Grainger material includes photographs, correspondence, artwork and ephemera from across her life, including before she met Percy in 1926. As a young woman Ella led a fascinating life, with complex interpersonal relationships, but her story has been overshadowed by that of her more famous husband.
This talk will focus on the period 1914 - 1919 when Ella Viola Ström took classes at the Slade School of Art, Central School of Arts and Crafts and ateliers in Paris. Her studies were funded by her benefactor Frederick Leverton Harris, who encouraged her to pursue a career as an artist. The talk will center on photographs held in the collection at the Grainger house in White Plain. These intriguing images of Ella and her peers give a rare insight into life as an art student at that time and have provided new avenues for research.
Monica Syrette is an independent curator and researcher. Her interest in Ella Grainger developed over the ten years that she worked in curatorial roles at the Grainger Museum and she has conducted extensive research for a proposed biography.
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