When the sculptor Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams died in 1934, the Scotsman referred to her “undoubted genius”. It was no exaggeration. The humanity and technical skill that characterise her work are there for all to see in The Spirit of the Crusaders, in Paisley (below) and in her twelve pieces for the Scottish National War Memorial, which led art historian Duncan Macmillan to describe her as the memorial’s “star sculptor” (Scotland’s Shrine, 2014).
Alice was the co-star of An Artist’s War. The art and letters of Morris & Alice Meredith Williams, based on her husband’s First World War sketchbooks (The History Press, 2017) and readers of that book and audiences at talks have consistently asked for more information about her. Undaunted Spirit. The art and craft of Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams, a 160-page book with 290 illustrations of more than 120 works, of different scales and in a variety of media, is the response.
“Her work is beautiful. In the biased perspective of conventional art history it may seem conservative, but due to its scale and enduring public impact, Williams was probably the most important woman artist of the 1920s.” (Duncan Macmillan, The Scotsman, 13th December 2018)
The book’s title was found in a tribute by a friend. “Small of stature and delicate in appearance, with visionary eyes, she acquired amid the rigours of her student life a power of endurance which supported her in the heaviest work, and no obstacles deterred her undaunted spirit from carrying out an idea.”
(Henry Pyatt, The Times, 9th March 1934)