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Oscar Mellor
(1921 — 2005)

Oscar Mellor was a British painter and publisher. Born in Manchester in 1921, Mellor moved to Birmingham with his family in 1939. Though his artistic temperament encouraged Mellor to begin painting watercolours in his adolescence the onset of the Second World War, in which he served in the Royal Air Force, halted his artistic motivations. In 1946 Mellor enrolled as a part-time student at the Birmingham School of Art and later the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. The artist became closely associated with the emerging Birmingham Surrealists. In 1947 Mellor aided in founding the Birmingham Artists Committee which frequently helped to celebrate progressive and increasingly Surrealist artists of the city through independent exhibitions. The artist regularly exhibited his own Surrealist paintings alongside the work of contemporaries such as John Melville and William Gear. Mellor relocated to Oxford in 1948 in order to focus his attention on his studies at the Ruskin School.


It was there in Oxford that Mellor established himself as a publisher, founding the Fantasy Press which operated between the years 1951 to 1959. Mellor and his Fantasy Press became known for his focus on publishing the works of innovative British poets, such as Elizabeth Jennings, Philip Larkin and Geoffrey Hill who were major proponents of the literary group the Movement. Despite his growing reputation as a progressive publisher and printer of written works, it is said that Mellor operated the Press as a business to fund his efforts in Surrealist painting. Whilst in Oxford, the artist began to undertake photographic commissions for the Oxford Playhouse. His enjoyment of photography was such that from 1969 to 1973 Mellor served as lecturer in Photography at the Exeter College of Art. Alongside his photographic work Mellor continued to paint, a practice which he returned his focus to almost exclusively in the years before his death. The artist died in 2005. His work remains represented in the Arts Council Collection.