Dorothy Mead was born in London where she lived for a number of years. At the tender age of 18, she became a pupil of David Bomberg's at the Dagenham School of Art. Mead was headstrong and extremely confident even as a teenager, and her early works display considerable technique and understanding of Bomberg's teaching and methods. The relationship was not altogether harmonious, in fact Mead once complained in writing to the college about Bomberg's teaching methods. Despite this, she followed Bomberg to the Borough Polytechnic where she attended his now legendary classes alongside Cliff Holden, Dennis Creffield, Miles Richmond and others. These four artists became founder members of the Borough Group, now celebrated at the Borough Road Gallery situated in the old Polytechnic building and centred around the remarkable collection of Sarah Rose.
Mead remained closely associated with the group and was held in very high regard by the other members. Her relationship with Cliff Holden took her to Spain briefly - again alongside Bomberg and Richmond, and thence to Sweden for a short time before the relationship ended and she returned to London. She attended the Slade School of Art as a mature student and proved to be an influential figure amongst her peers. She also won numerous awards including the Steer Medal, yet left without securing a diploma after she refused to sit an exam on perspective, stating in a letter to Sir William Coldstream that "perspective is completely alien to me in my work as a painter."
Mead was president of the Young Contemporaries (1958-59) and her work entered the collection of the Arts Council in the early 60s. This was followed by her inclusion in the Arts Council exhibition 6 Young Painters in 1964. The exhibition also featured David Hockney and Bridget Riley and shows the regard she was held in by the establishment. Despite this, she showed infrequently in commercial galleries, instead favouring groups and associations. She became a member of the London Group and 1971 she was nominated to be president - the first female artist to hold the post. At around this time, a still life by Mead entered the collection of the Tate Gallery in London.
Mead died tragically young at the age of 46. She was remembered fondly as an inspirational teacher as well as an artist (she held posts at Goldsmiths College and Morley College - who also own examples of her work). Recently her work has been rediscovered by a new generation of collectors and critics thanks in no small part to the creation of the Borough Road Gallery. This gallery is the permanent home of the Sarah Rose Collection which includes works by the principle members of the group. The gallery held a retrospective of her work in 2012 and regularly displays her paintings in mixed exhibitions.