Patti Mayor 150

Patti Mayor 150 is an exhibition celebrating the Preston-born artist on the 150th anniversary of her birth. Gallery Oldham has one of Patti’s paintings, Mill Girl with a Shawl, in its permanent collection and we have been loaned twelve more by the Harris Art Gallery and Museum in Preston and the Grundy in Blackpool for the exhibition.

Painting showing a mill girl dressed in a woolen dark brown shawl
Mill Girl with Shawl

Since the exhibition opened in September, we have learned so much more about Patti, her family, and her portrait sitters than we knew before. This is because of the contact we have been able to make through social media and virtual events with members of the public who have filled us in on their own connection to and knowledge of Patti and her work.  

A great example of this is Dominic Bull’s research into the Mayor family tree. Dom is a relative of Patti and he joined us for a virtual curator talk about Patti Mayor 150. During the talk he answered some burning questions like Patti’s actual birthdate (1 May) and gave insight into her father’s status as a business owner.

Since then, Dom has shared his and Patti’s shared family tree and through correspondence and another virtual chat he has helped us to flesh out even more information about Patti’s family background. The work Dom has shared has helped us to gain a better understanding of Patti as a person, her close ties to the Northwest, and how her family had ‘moved up’ from the poor millworkers she painted to middle-class business owners and artists.

Photograph of installation of exhibition showing four framed portraits of Patti Mayor hung on the gallery wall.

Patti herself did not leave behind many documents or correspondence, so Dom’s work in filling in some blanks has helped us greatly in getting a fuller picture of who she was, where she came from, and how this might influence our understanding of her art.

While there are still many unanswered questions about her life and her art, we hope that if anyone else out there has more information for us that they similarly get in touch. As Patti’s 150th birthday celebrations come to a close, it would be wonderful to put more names to the faces of Patti’s portraits and get a better understanding of the woman behind the paintings.

For more information about new discoveries in Patti Mayor research check out And please come by gallery 3 before 28 January to see the exhibition Patti Mayor 150.

Gallery Oldham