Special Edition: National Gallery of Australia


Joy Hester (1920-1960) was an Australian artist recognised for her psychologically charged figurative paintings and drawings. Hester excelled in her studies at the male-dominated National Gallery of Victoria Art School, winning a coveted annual prize for life studies in 1938. She later became the only female member of the Angry Penguins, Melbourne’s radical art coterie of the 1940s, and with her husband and fellow artist, Albert Tucker, joined the ‘Heide circle’ surrounding prominent art patrons John and Sunday Reed. The letters between Hester and Sunday Reed were later edited and compiled by Janine Burke in a volume titled Dear Sun (Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1995). Read more about Joy Hester here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=43905 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917 - 1999) was a New Zealand-born, Australian artist renowned for her poetic and powerful sculptural assemblages. Gascoigne began exhibiting her work in her 50s and less than a decade later was recognised as one of Australia’s preeminent artists. Gascoigne was selected with Peter Booth to represent Australia at the 1982 Venice Biennale, making her one of only 13 women to have had this opportunity in 65 years. Read more about Rosalie Gascoigne here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=8774  

Tracey Moffatt (born 1960) is one of the most influential artists in Australia. Moffatt’s practice draws on her background as an Aboriginal Australian and her upbringing in the 1960s, inspired by commercial images from magazines, films and television. Moffatt’s work is held by major Australian and international collecting galleries including the National Gallery of Australia, Tate, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angles. Moffatt represented Australia at the 2017 Venice Biennale with a body of work titled My horizon. Read more about Tracey Moffatt here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=186503  

Inge King (1915 - 2016) was one of Australia’s foremost émigré sculptors. Born and raised in Germany, King moved to Australia in 1950. King immediately made a productive and profound contribution to the art scene by refining her abstract sculptural style and promoting contemporary public sculpture through initiatives and collectives like the ‘Centre 5’ group. King was recognised for her significant involvement in the arts and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1984. Read more about Inge King here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=5340 

Fiona Foley (born 1964) is Badtjala woman and an influential curator, writer, academic and artist. Her work is in informed by her Badtjala heritage and often references Aboriginal and colonial Australian histories. Foley was one of the first Aboriginal students to attend the Sydney College of the Arts in 1984. She embraced a versatile and interdisciplinary approach to art making and excelled at printmaking, photography, sculpture and installation. Foley’s work has been featured in many exhibitions including Global feminism held at the Brooklyn Museum, New York in 2007. Read more about Fiona Foley here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=198627 

Dorrit Black (1891 - 1951) was instrumental in the development of cubism and abstraction in Australia. Black trained in London at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art where she learned to use geometric patterns and harmonious colour schemes in her printmaking and painting practice. After attending André Lhote's academy in Paris working briefly with Albert Gleizes she returned to Australia in 1929. There she conceived and ran the Modern Art Centre, Sydney, which functioned as an art organisation and exhibition space, making her the first woman to lead an art gallery in Australia. Read more about Dorrit Black here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=42363 

Emily Kam Kngwarray (1910 - 1996) is one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists. Kngwarray is known for her gestural and hypnotic paintings which draw emotive and aesthetic connections to the natural world. She is a leader in collaborative art making, working as part of Utopia Projects and with her community. Throughout her life, Kngwarray acted as a mentor and role model, holding an important role as an Anmatyerr Elder. In 1992 she received the Australian Artist’s Creative Fellowship for her major contribution to Australian cultural life. Notably, Kngwarray represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1997 with Yvonne Koolmatrie and Judy Watson. Read more about Emily Kam Kngwarray here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=6302 

Thea Proctor (1879 - 1966) was a striking figure in the Australian art world, known for her bright and jubilant prints. Proctor was a student at the Julian Ashton School in Sydney before furthering her education in London. On her return to Australia, she exhibited with Margaret Preston and founded the Contemporary Group with other women artists including Grace Cossington Smith and Marion Hall Best. Proctor’s innovative and engaging work has been celebrated in major exhibitions, such as the retrospective held at Australia’s Old Parliament House in 2005.  Read more about Thea Proctor here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/search.cfm 

Grace Cossington Smith (1892 - 1984) is renowned for her iconic urban images and radiant interiors. A brilliant colourist, she recorded the changes and innovations of Sydney, such as the building of the Harbour Bridge, with optimism and excitement.  These images are among the most iconic works in Australian art history.  The National Gallery of Australia held a major exhibition of her work in 2005. Read more about Grace Cossington-Smith here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=45746 

Yvonne Koolmatrie (born 1944) is a custodian of Ngarrindjeri weaving. She creates traditional woven forms, like eel traps, burial baskets and food vessels, as well as contemporary objects from everyday life. Her sculptural forms are beautiful and delicate but also robust, and her work has helped revitalise the practice and appreciation of weaving in Australia. Read more about Yvonne Koolmatrie here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=4082 

Banduk Marika (born 1954) is a celebrated Australian printmaker, arts advocate and cultural leader. Marika was one of the first Yolngu women to depict ancestral creation stories, previously made only by men. She moved from northeast Arnhem Land to Sydney to pursue a career as an artist in the 1980s. Marika attended the National Art School and was drawn to the printmaking technique of lino cutting, translating intricate patterns and designs into the block. Marika’s works have been collected and exhibited by many galleries in Australia. She was appointed to the National Gallery of Australia Council in 1989 and as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2019 for her cultural advisory and contribution to the arts. Read more about Banduk Marika here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/search.cfm 

Violet Teague (1872 - 1951) was an Australian painter and printmaker recognised for her refined and sensitive work. Teague was an artist of international significance, exhibiting paintings at the Paris Salon and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Her printmaking practice also garnered attention as she embraced and adapted Japanese woodblock printing, using this stylistic approach to capture the Australian landscape and animals. Teague was also known as one of the first women art critics in Australia.  Read more about Violet Teague here: https://artsearch.nga.gov.au/detail.cfm?irn=115757