Ray Mead was a member of Painters Eleven, Canada’s groundbreaking abstractionists, who in the 1950s abandoned literal representations, opting for abstract expression. Born in 1921 in Watford in Hertfordshire England, Mead’s artistic practices were supported by his grandmother from a young age, who not only exposed him to her art collection but took him on regular trips to the Tate, the National Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
In 1939 Mead joined the Royal Air Force to train as a fighter pilot but was injured on duty in 1941, and following his recovery, was posted to Hamilton, Canada, where he travelled to the US to train bomber pilots. There he was exposed to American culture and the New York art scene, which dramatically impacted his mindset and brought new freedom into his artmaking.
Mead remained in Canada and established himself as a Master Canadian painter, with his first showing at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 1948 and his second at the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1950. He joined the Ontario Society of Artists (OSA) and showed in their 1950 exhibition of abstract works of art. Mead continued to show with the OSA and established close relationships with several artists who would eventually join to form Painters Eleven.