1904 - 1997
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Nell Mary Bradshaw was born in California in 1904. She began to paint as a child after her family moved to Coronation, Alberta. Although primarily a self-taught artist, she took classes from from H.G. Glyde and Molly Bobak at the Victoria Art Gallery, and received additional instruction from Duncan de Kergommeaus and Herbert Seibner.
Her early work was influenced by the Group of Seven, in particular by the work of A.Y. Jackson and Tom Thomson. She was also inspired by Paul Klee, Van Gogh, Jack Shadbolt, and West Coast Indian carvers. Bradshaw was fascinated with the totem poles created by the First Nations people, and began painting them plein-air in the late 1930s. She moved to British Columbia in 1955 but it was not until 1964, after the death of her husband, that she felt that she could devote herself to painting on a full-time basis.
Interested in recording Haida culture, Bradshaw made several trips to the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 1970s. Her totem paintings became well known worldwide, and British Columbia provincial anthropologist Wilson Duff considered her totem works to be of the highest calibre. Her paintings are widely collected in Canada, the United States, and abroad. She was a full member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and a member of the Alberta Society of Artists. She is also known for her wood block prints and collages.