Margaret Mee
The Amazon Moonflower
'.....the flower opens for the first time soon after dusk and closes at dawn - then it dies....'
'.....the Nirvana of botanical painting '
'.... A flor amazônica "Dama da Noite" é mais conhecida como o "nirvana" da botânica....'
Margaret Mee e a Flor da Lua
© Tony Morrison 1988

Why was Margaret so anxious to paint this unusual plant.....
'out of the darkness came forth life....'
......did it convey a premonition of her own death........does the dying flower symbolise a dying world.....
• Why did a wealthy duchess become involved with Margaret and the Moonflower story..........
.....and what lay behind her interest....
• Why was Greville Mee, Margaret's long time partner whom she married late in life, a special player
.....Greville had never even travelled to the Amazon....


A treasured Memorial in the heart of the forest

'Margaret died in a car accident England in November 1988. In May of the following year Tony Morrison with help from Gilberto Castro arranged a very special return to the flooded forest where Margaret had sketched the 'Moonflower'.

' Sue Loram who helped Margaret with her painting in 1988 knew that Greville Mee wanted to visit the spot so loved by his wife. Brian Sewell who filmed the epic last journey also joined the small party.

Greville and Sue were totally alone when they paddled silently into the the forest . Sue remembers it as ' ' an amazing moment' and Greville scattered Margaret's ashes. Afterwards Greville fixed a small plaque to a tree - it was a very private ceremony witnessed by just four friends. The birth date on the plaque was 1908 - it should have been 1909 , but everyone agreed that was insignificant as the message was intended as a memory of Margaret and her passionate love of the forest its wonders - even a tiny ant crept across the plaque within seconds of it being there '

The full account of this remarkably peaceful moment will be in the book

A lost painting

Margaret's first painting of water surrounded by fine trees was made in about 1947 a couple of years after the end of the Second World War.

As Margaret Bartlett and recently divorced she was living with Greville Mee in a room lent by friends in north London. Greville was estranged from his wife Jeannie and looking for a new life. Margaret and Greville were attending classes at London art schools and at weekends they spent hours sketching in the woods and open land known as Hampstead Heath.

This painting is probably Margaret's impresssion of the Leg of Mutton Pond. Like other new artists they exhibited their work on railings beside the Heath but this oil painting was not sold there.

The work changed hands sometime before 1987. This copy is from a black and white photograph - the only record of the painting. A full account of its very unusual provenance will be in the book.

The painting is unique and with its connections gives a clue to her intensely passionate interest in the natural world

Greville Mee

They met 1946 in London, England at St.Martin's School of Art in Charing Cross Road. Almost immediately Greville moved in with Margaret to live in a single room of a large flat [apartment] with some of Margaret's friends.

Greville was an extremely talented commercial artist and indeed one art valuer in London reckoned Greville was a better artist than Margaret.

They were not married when left for Brasil in late 1951 and in fact did not marry until 1980. They lived together in São Paulo using the name 'Mee' and later in Rio de Janeiro in what some said was an 'open marriage'. It certainly was a relationship that suited them as each could pursue their own interests and make friends in different circles.

In Margaret's house in Rio they shared the same studio and as Margaret said ' he always made valuable comments about my composition' And in the case of the Amazon Moonflower , Greville created the initial design

After Margaret's death in 1988 Greville married an old friend from São Paulo days. He died in 2007.

In 1989 St Martin's School of Art merged with the Central School of Art and Design to become The Central St Martin's College of Arts and Design at a new address in Kings Cross, London

'The Making of the Moonflower' will be in the book
This book will be Margaret's story drawn from over 5 hours of recordings made with her by Tony Morrison in January /February and May 1988 - only a few months before her death
In this unique book the recorded stories are repeated verbatim - And unlike many other accounts here you will hear Margaret telling us about her life - her early days an artist - her Amazon adventures and more
When you buy the book some recordings and video - including the pinning of the memorial plaque will be ready for you download to your tablet and the entire production will be illustrated with dozens of photos ranging from her childhood to her days of world fame
More short extracts will be posted here before the publication now scheduled for mid-2014

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