Celebrated socialist artist Mary Louise Coulouris reflected the lives of working people

PUBLISHED: 13:22 02 March 2012

Mary Louie Coulouris

Mary Louie Coulouris


Artist Mary Louise Coulouris, who has died age 72, spent her teenage years in Hampstead and met her husband-to-be whilst painting near Camden.

Inspired by diverse people and cultures during a life spent between the US, UK, France and Greece, Ms Coulouris’ work ranged from lithography to watercolour landscapes to colour etching.

In 2004, she was famously commissioned to paint a series of watercolours for the House of Lords by the Curator of the Palace of Westminster.

And in 2008 she produced watercolours inspired by British poets of her choice for the Royal Free Hospital in London.

In total, more than 25 exhibitions in Athens, Edinburgh and London were dedicated to her work.

Her brother George Coulouris lives in Kentish Town where Ms Coulouris spent some of her childhood, attending Parliament Hill School in Highgate Road.

Their family moved to Hampstead in 1950 and once Ms Coulouris’ school days were over she embarked on her artistic career.

She trained at both Chelsea School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art and won a French government scholarship at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

But she met her husband, Glaswegian engineer Gordon Wallace, in England whilst sketching beside Regent’s Canal near Camden Lock in the 1960s.

Her brother explained that their first meeting was a result of her interest in painting working scenes.

“The canal was not much frequented or open to the public at the time, but both she and Gordon managed to gain access despite the defences erected by the waterway authority.

“The canal was still in use by very colourful boats carrying commercial loads, creating a scene that accorded with both of her interests.”

The couple married in 1971 before settling in West Lothian in 1976 with their son Duncan and daughter Saro.

There she established her studio and her reputation grew.

Mr Coulouris said: “Mary Louise combined a strong artistic vocation with a firm commitment to socialism fed by the political background of the 1950s and 1960s.

“Realism was important in her art - she strove to produce work accessible to working people and reflecting their lives.

“The breadth of her work widened as she experienced and contributed to the arts scenes in Scotland and in Greece, but it never lost its focus on reflecting the visual richness of working scenes and popular events.”

People were always central to her work alongside drawing and colour.

He added: “The vibrancy of her artwork and her vivid use of colour contrasted with her apparent shyness and quiet sense of humour. Her lifelong commitment to making art will be sadly missed in the art world.”

Mary Louise Coulouris died on December 20 last year from motor neurone disease.

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