Undaunted Spirit

Alice was a prolific, prize-winning student at Liverpool School of Architecture and Applied Art in the 1890s. In 1900 the City Council awarded her a £60 travel scholarship and she took herself to Paris where she stayed, studying and working, for five years. There she met a young illustrator and painter called Morris Meredith Williams and following their marriage in 1906, they settled in Edinburgh, where he had found a teaching job.

In the years before the First World War, Alice sold her designs for stained glass windows to Glasgow glassmakers, Guthrie & Wells; she helped Morris with book illustrations, and made painted plaster reliefs and small figures in bronze and silver for domestic settings. During the War, commissions and sales were thin on the ground until, in 1918, she was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to produce a series of models illustrating women’s war work. These led to her first-large scale commission, from the architect Sir Robert Lorimer, for a memorial in South Africa.

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Over the next decade, working both alone and in collaboration with Morris, she designed stained glass windows and figures of saints and angels for the pulpits, altars, corbels and organ cases of more than a dozen churches in Scotland, England and Wales, and also in Hamilton, Bermuda and Long Island, New York. As a student, she exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, then regularly at the Royal Scottish Academy and later at the Royal Academy in London and the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. She was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1928.

Undaunted Spirit. The art and craft of Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams, by Phyllida Shaw, traces her story and the development of her work from her early days in Liverpool and Paris to the end of her life, at the age of 56, in Devon.

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Mother and child replacement

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