Hartlepool Museum and Heritage Service has an extensive collection of artworks, built up from the first opening of Gray Museum and Art Gallery in 1920. Two of Margaret Green’s works are part of the collection.
Margaret Green was born in West Hartlepool in 1925, and her interest in art grew from a young age. Her father was a member of Hartlepool Art Club, and he encouraged her to paint. During a holiday in North Yorkshire as a teenager Margaret had her portrait drawn by a young Patrick Heron. It was through her father’s influence, and this encounter with the future leading abstract artist, that Margaret became inspired to become an artist herself.
She began her studies at the Hartlepool College of Art and progressed to the Royal College of Art in 1944. It was there that she met Lionel Bulmer, a fellow student, who became her constant companion in art and life until his death in 1992. In the early years of their partnership, they travelled in France for months together, supporting each other creatively, until deciding to return to England to work in London.
Margaret’s earliest works, from the 1950s when she and Lionel undertook part time teaching positions, capture the ongoing life of post-war London, of people looking in at shop windows, sitting in cafes or catching the latest bus. There is a familiarity and everydayness to these paintings, and they address the melancholy atmosphere of a country recovering after war.
Margaret and Lionel worked so closely together that their painting styles became very alike. While arranging paintings for exhibitions and sales, they even struggled to tell the difference between their own works. Between them they decided that Margaret would maintain her distinctive style and Lionel would adopt a different way of painting, similar to Seurat’s pointillism. It was also during this time that Margaret and Lionel bought and renovated a medieval house in Suffolk, turning it into the perfect place for the two to live and work, complete with an airy studio and a garden where they grew and produced their own food and wine.
Throughout Margaret’s life she exhibited with the Royal Academy and the New English Art Club. While Hartlepool holds two of her works, more of her work are kept in the UK Government’s Art Collection and Tate Britain.
Margaret and Lionel’s partnership was so strong that, after Lionel had died in 1992, Margaret stopped painting. She died in 2003.