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Mary left school to study at the Slade School of Art at the age of sixteen and upon leaving began making a living teaching, painting portraits and producing stage designs for, among others, Sadlers Wells Theatre. At the outbreak of the Second World War she served in the Land Army and the Woman’s Voluntary Service and was commissioned to produce murals for the war effort. In 1944 she was sent abroad as a driver for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. After the war, Mary returned to easel painting and developed her individual style of still life painting. She was appointed the first female tutor at The Royal Collage of Art in 1958 where one of her most famous pupils was David Hockney.