This website is dedicated to my maternal grandparents. It is the official website of the Monty & Stella Marks Archives and also intended to become a catalogue raisonné for both their works. It is starting small, but I intend it to grow over time. The pages will evolve and new pages will be added.
Stella Marks was a member of the American Society of Miniature Painters and of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptures and Gravers and was awarded an MVO honour (Member of The Royal Victorian Order) by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II for her work. Two of her portrait miniatures are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. She met Montagu Marks, 'Monty', when they were both students at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School.
Monty was also an accomplished artist, but spent much of his life as a businessman in the film industry. He was also a World War I Royal Flying Corp pilot, and in World War II was sent to Spain to help in propaganda and other activities to keep Spain from joining the Axis powers.
I knew and loved them both as I was growing up and thought they were special, as most grandchildren would. But, over the years what they achieved slipped further and further into oblivion. An internet search on the day I went live with this website (29th May 2015) showed almost no references to either.
This would not have surprised me, except that I had recently started to go through press cuttings that had been stored in a cupboard, unread for years. The more I read the more a feeling of awe came over me. I had never fully appreciated the extent of their success and even fame, especially in their early years.
I intend this website to be an exploration into the past that will piece together their lives, create a reference library of their work and what has been said about it - a catalogue raisonné. Perhaps, one day there can even be a retrospective exhibition. I hope some people will find it interesting and join me on the journey.
It is time my grandparents returned from oblivion.
I would be very grateful for any content additions or corrections to this website. If you have any please send me a post from the Contact page of this website.
In old age Monty would poignantly leave self-sketches on 'Don’t Forget' memo pads around the house. I hope he sensed that one day his wish (or was it a command?) would come true.
I thank my siblings, Micheal Pettifer and Annie Dixon, for all their help and continued encouragement.
I am grateful to Monty's niece, Sonia Jones, for giving me her journal of a family visit she made to Australia in 1994 and for her published book, The Primrose Path, that contains family history.
I am indebted to Monty's cousin, Cliff Harris, for a project called, Monty's Perth Today, and to Stella’s niece, Nancy Sibtain, and her son, Dauid Sibtain for their project on her. I discovered both these amongst the documents.
In November 2018 I met Nancy and Dauid Sibtain, together with other relations, in Sydney, and Stella’s great niece, Pam Baker, in Melbourne. Also on Monty’s side of the family I met Sandra Ramini in London and Valda Napier in Melbourne. They have all been most welcoming and provided a wealth of additional information and documents.