Jessie M. King – a female trailblazer


Since setting up her jewellery business in the 1960s, Ola Gorie has drawn inspiration from a range of sources, including the ancient past, her surrounding environment, her home in Orkney and from other pioneering designers. One such designer was Jessie M. King, a prolific early 20th century artist, known for her paintings, illustrations, ceramics, textiles and jewellery. 

King was a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald (also inspirations to Ola) and studied at the Glasgow School of Art during its Art Nouveau heyday in the early 1900s. She was most celebrated in her lifetime for her fabulous book covers and illustrations. They allowed her to indulge her passion for medieval and fantasy themes, with the flowing, delicate lines of her illustrations evoking graceful birds and animals, winsome damsels, and intricate Beardsley-esque decoration.

Jessie M. King book illustration

King was also a huge champion of women. Her home in Kirkcudbright, Green Gate Close, where she lived with her husband and fellow artist, E. A. Taylor, was an important gathering place for other female artists who she mentored and encouraged.  An inspiring example for this International Women’s Day!
Ola Gorie’s Meadowlark Collection, featuring songbirds and plants, is directly inspired by the luscious and intricate designs of King’s book illustrations, which she executes in a crisp and contemporary style. She likes to think that King would approve of the collection, which carries on King’s legacy and the tradition of female design.

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