Collection UQFL119 - Daphne Mayo Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Daphne Mayo Papers


  • 1897-1982. (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

28 boxes, 9 oversize folders, 39 parcels, 1 tube

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Lilian Daphne Mayo was born at Balmain North, Sydney on 1 October 1895 to English-born parents. Her parents, William McArthur Mayo (1868-1954) and Eliza Mary (Lila), née Saxelby (1870-1959), had an older son Richard Mayo (who died in 1925). The family moved to Highgate Hill, Brisbane when she was young. She received a Diploma in Art Craftsmanship from the Brisbane Central Technical College in 1913 and in the same year was the winner of the Queensland Wattle Day League travelling art scholarship. From 1920 to 1923 Mayo attended the Royal Academy Sculpture School in London. She returned to Brisbane in 1925 after the death of her brother. She is noted for her large scale public artworks in Brisbane including the Brisbane Tattersall's Club frieze (1926), the tympanum and concert hall frieze of the new City Hall (1927-30), tympanum and Stations of the Cross for the Church of the Holy Spirit, New Farm (1929-30), Queensland Women's War Memorial, Anzac Square (1929-32), and relief panels for the chapel of Mt Thompson Crematorium (1934). In 1929 she co-founded the Queensland Art Fund with friend Vida Lahey. Mayo was foundation trustee of the Godfrey Rivers Trust and was the main buyer for most of the works acquired by the Trust for the Queensland National Art Gallery (now the Queensland Art Gallery). In 1938 and 1939 she travelled in Europe and North America to observe art developments. Between 1940 and 1942 she completed the bronze doors for the Public Library of New South Wales. In 1949 Mayo was awarded the Member of the order of the British Empire for contributions to art. Other works include: The King's School War Memorial, Paramatta (1948-1953); portrait bust of J.D. Story (1954-1956); portrait bust of Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey, the Australian War Memorial, Canberra (1957-1958); The Jolly Swagman Statue, the Public Swimming Pool, Winton (1959); portrait bust of Lloyd Rees, the Art Gallery of South Australia; statue of Sir William Glasgow, Brisbane (1961-1964); Statue of a Youth, Knox Grammar School, Sydney (1962 to 1964); and Trophy, the Winton Bronze Swagman Award for Bush Verse (1970-1971). In 1960 Daphme Mayo was appointed the Queensland Art Gallery's first woman trustee. While undertaking these various works, she also earnt a living as a property owner and grew an investment portfolio in bonds and shares. In 1973 she sold her Highate Hill property and retired from public life. The 1970s saw a decline in her health. She died at Brisbane on 31 July 1982.

"Lilian Macarthur" is a pseudonym of Daphne Mayo's. It is a combination of her first name and the middle name of her father.

Archival history

Collection previously titled as: Papers, [191-?]-[196-?]
Collection alternatively titled as: Daphne Mayo Collection.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

In this collection belonging to Daphne Mayo, there are over 100 folders of correspondence: 13 of these folders relate to Daphne Mayo's commissioned and uncommissioned sculptural works. There are over 1400 items of correspondence from Daphne Mayo's parents, Bill and Lila Mayo. There are over 1220 items of correspondence from friends and family of Daphne Mayo. A small number of outgoing letters or drafts are in the collection. There are financial records and related correspondence, bank records, tax records relating to the finances of Daphne Mayo regarding her artistic works, property investments, and investments in bonds and shares. Personal documents of Daphne Mayo are present such as: permits; identification documents; diaries; calendars; handwritten notes, writings, scribblings; and copious lists for all areas of Daphne Mayo's life. There are portrait photographs of Daphne Mayo and of her works from 1919-1974; as well as two albums of photographs taken by Judith McKay when Daphne Mayo's Sydney studio was packed up. Included in the collection are 48 sculpting tools used by Daphne Mayo. The most prolific of Daphne Mayo's works of art in the collection are her drawings and paintings with over 436 artworks, as well as 22 sculptures, and 46 sketchbooks. Retained in the collection are publications, inscribed by Daphne Mayo and others, exhibition catalogues, and newspaper and magazine cuttings given to Daphne Mayo or collected by her. Additionally material that is presumed to be from the estate of Lila Mayo, Daphne Mayo's mother, form part of the collection and this includes 6 folders of letters from 1930 to 1959 from Daphne Mayo to her parents.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Imposed by processing archivist. Arranged into 13 series. Works of art, once separate from the collection, have been included in this arrangement.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Unrestricted access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright applies. Contact the Fryer Library.
Pre-1955 photographs: copyright expired.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Daphne Mayo was a mentor, teacher and friend to Mim Shaw, see UQFL627 Mim Shaw Papers for related information.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Material from this collection has been cited in:

Beattie, Debra. 'Gender disruption in the life and times of Daphne Mayo'. In Baker, Brien, & Sulway. (2017). Recovering history through fact and fiction: forgotten lives. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Beck, D. (2017). Rayner Hoff: the life of a sculptor. Sydney, NSW: NewSouth Publishing.

Bell, Catherine. 'Bringing Daphne back : archival research and artistic collaboration'. In Jenna C. Ashton (ed). (2017). Feminism and museums : intervention, disruption and change. Edinburgh : MuseumsEtc.

Bond, L (2023). 'Our Miss Michelagelo', Women's Weekly, April, 86-90.

Jordan, C., Kirkby, D. (2018). 'Women Modernists Gendering Leadership in Australian Art in the 1930s and 1940s'. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 18(2), 259-281.

Lovell, S. (2014). 'Shadowing Vida Lahey: Bats, Books and Biographical Method'. Queensland Review, 21(1), 72-83.

Lovell, Sue Rosemary (2010). 'Vida Lahey's Progressive Activism for Children's Art Education', Australian Historical Studies, 41:3, 269-285.

McKay, J. (1981). Daphne Mayo, sculptor. M.A. Thesis, Power Institute of Fine Arts, University of Sydney

Mayo, D., McKay, J., Hawker, M., & Queensland Art Gallery. (2011). Daphne Mayo : Let there be sculpture. South Brisbane, Qld.: Queensland Art Gallery.

Sue Lovell (2008). 'Wanted, a strong girl, able to milk and make herself agreeable'. Australian Feminist Studies. 23. 195-211.

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)



Millennium Local System Number


OCLC Number

222661801 ; 1058560416

Libraries Australia ID

21260550 ; 63004996

Access points

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Description control area

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Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

Revised, Linda Justo, 15-Dec-2020. Revised, AM, 01-Jun-2020. Migrated from LMS: April 2019, P.A.




The Australian women's register, AWH004147

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

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Physical storage

  • Box: UQFL119 Box 1
  • Box: UQFL119 Box 2
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  • Oversize folder: UQFL119 Oversize folder 1
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  • Parcel: UQFL119 Parcel 1
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  • Tube: UQFL119 Tube 1