It is difficult to make out what Marjory Nicol-Smith (or Mrs Marjory Mortada) is holding up to her right in this picture grabbed from the Daily Mirror of 28 April 1970, and you may be surprised to learn that it is her impression of the philosopher and anti-nuclear protestor Bertrand Russell during his Great Sit Down outside the MInistry of Defence in 1951. The caption says that Mortada is a “political sculptress” and that the Hilton Gallery was showing her work and that she had shown her work at the Royal Academy.
In 1939, Marjory, aged 26, was listed as living at 26 Old Church Street with her sister Sheila and volunteering for the London County Council ambulance service. She probably worked at AS22 in Danvers Street alongside my diarist June.
She had studied at Gray’s School of Art in her home town of Aberdeen and come to London to work as an artist. She painted murals and did lettering, but her first love was wood carving. She told the Mirror that while she waited for the air raid sirens during the Blitz, she would carve chess pieces: “The kings were always Falstaffian figures. The knights, morris dancers on hobby horses. The pawns were workers carrying hammers and sickles.” Even for the Mirror, Marjory, the daughter of an Army Lieutenant-Colonel, was probably a bit out there, although the furthest they would go was that she was a bit “protesty”.
In 1943 Marjory married Ismail Osman Mortada, the son of an Egypt-born doctor. They went on to have four children (that I know of). She died in 1978.