painter, ceramic and metalwork artist, cartoonist, illustrator, lecturer and art historian, was born in Richmond, Victoria, on 29 July 1901, daughter of Henry Callaway and Marguerite, née Deschamps. After attending the Presbyterian Ladies College, she studied drawing at the National Gallery School in 1916-20 under Frederick McCubbin and W.B. McInnes, then undertook an Applied Arts course at the Melbourne Working Men’s College (RMIT) and studied independently with Leslie Wilkie.

She returned to RMIT in 1930 in order to study ceramic techniques under Gladys Kelly. This was unsatisfactory, so she taught herself from books, producing her first ceramic works in 1931. They were fired in a coke kiln built by her husband, Thomas Orrock Mahood, an engineer and her 'life-long collaborator and co-worker’, whom she married in 1923. Their son, Martin, was born in 1938 but died soon afterwards.

From 1918, when she showed illustrations for a memorial volume of Adam Lindsay Gordon’s poems and other drawings, Mahood exhibited decorative art nouveau watercolours with the Victorian Artists’ Society (VAS) and produced linocuts in the 1920s. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s she had successful solo exhibitions of her ceramic plaques, masks and figures in Melbourne and one (in 1947) at the David Jones Gallery, Sydney. She identified her ceramic work with her monogram and dated it with a letter code, beginning with 'A’ for the first year of production (1931).

Mahood continued to exhibit with the VAS – now showing ceramic pieces – as well as with the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria (1933-34) and the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors of which she was a member from 1927; she showed linocuts of animals at its exhibitions in the late 1950s. In 1956 her ceramic work was shown in the Melbourne Olympic Games Women’s Art Exhibition, including one of her masks, Splendour (Shepparton AG). All her female masks, she said, were based on Marlene Dietrich.

As 'Margot’ Mahood she also became known as a cartoonist and illustrator, beginning with a series of humorous natural history pictorial features in the 'Wild Life’ section of the Herald and Weekly Times in 1944 which continued for eight years. Bim in the Bush , Bim and His Friends and Bim at Bimbang Junction appeared in 'Wild Life’, Tim the Terrier in 'Our Women’ and The Scientific Adventures of Professor Smeebolger in 'Australian Boy’. Pinknose the Possum and The Sandmans were published in the Age . Her book, The Whispering Stone , also appeared in 1944. A primer, Drawing Australian Animals , was published in 1952.

She ran a screen-printing firm in 1947-51, and she also produced oil paintings such as a haunting image of a young urban Aboriginal woman, The Disinherited (c.1945, Deutscher Fine Art), in which the social realist attitudes that also made her a member of the Communist Party are most obvious.

Late in life (1970) she was awarded a PhD from the University of Melbourne for her thesis on nineteenth-century political cartoons, published as The Loaded Line in 1973 and still the standard reference. She also contributed entries on cartoonists to Joan Kerr’s Dictionary of Australian Artists’ project, most of which were published in the pre-1870 volume in 1992. She was working on a book on the development of Melbourne social and political life as seen in cartoons when she died in 1989, aged 88.

Timms, Peter
Kerr, Joan
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