Mary Agnes Stainbank (1889-1996) was the eldest daughter of Dering and Ethel Stainbank.  She completed her schooling at St. Anne’s College in Hilton in 1916 and went on to study sculpture at the Durban School of Art, followed by a degree in Fine Arts at the Royal College of Arts, in London, where she established herself as an artist of rare and exceptional talent  amongst peers such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.


On completion of her studies in 1927, Mary returned to South Africa to set up the studio “Ezayo”, over the cowsheds at Coedmore, with fellow student and lifelong companion, Wilgeforde Vann-Hall ( A talented stained glass artist in her own right who also painted the mural on the passage wall within Coedmore, depicting the early family history.)


During her lifetime Mary completed numerous public commissions many of which are still to be seen on and in some public buildings in Durban. Some of these works include:

  • The ”Flower Sellers” on the corner of Monty Naiker (Pine) Street and Dorothy Nyembe (Gardiner) Street.

  • The statue of John Ross on Margaret Mncadi Avenue (Victoria Embankment).

  • The gargoyle-like figures on the old Receiver of Revenue building.

  • Work in the old Addington Children’s hospital.


She also created a substantial collection of privately executed sculptures which are now beautifully showcased in The Mary Stainbank Memorial Gallery. The gallery is housed within  a restored granary in the old farm buildings, now occupied by the Wilderness Leadership School.


Visits are by appointment only. 

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