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  • Chris McMillan

Mary Stuart-Miller: the colour blind Sussex artist

The Argus

12th March 2023

Mary Stuart-Miller: the colour blind Sussex artist

She’s colour blind but artist Mary Stuart-Miller creates vibrant paintings in her favourite hues of yellow, orange and purple from her homes in Europe and Brighton

Mary Stuart-Miller isn’t like other artists. ‘I have a cataract, astigmatism, am colour blind and very short sighted, does it show?’ she laughs, surrounded by her vibrant paintings at her house in Kemptown, Brighton.

For someone who, at the age of 53, bundled a few belongings into her VW Beetle and drove to Rome with her 12-year-old daughter to start a new life and run a project feeding homeless people on the streets, she’s clearly not the type of person that would let optical issues hold her back.

Mary’s bright, animated art, which she sometimes ‘paints’ with a credit card, or applies acrylic paint with palette knives straight onto the canvas, belies straitlaced early schooldays that could have suffocated her creativity. Her works include paintings of the seaside skeleton of Brighton’s West Pier, destroyed by fire 20 years ago. It’s instantly recognisable, only now it’s fringed with dramatic sweeps of colour and set against a kaleidoscopic beach of red, purple, yellow and blue pebbles.

‘What I paint is what I feel, not what I see,’ she explains. ‘Colour is vitally important to me - it brings the world to life. I can’t bear grey roads and dull trees. I need a life full of contrasts.’

Her latest work combines one of the world’s best-known portraits with an inimitable and imaginative twist. Mary’s interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is set against a Vincent Van Gogh-inspired background.

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