Joy Hester (1955) Lovers [II] Joy Hester (c. 1947) Gethsemane IV Joy Hester (1956) Girl with Hen Joy Hester (1955) Mother and Baby. Photograph of Joy Hester

My avatar is the painting ‘Little Girl With Book on Head’ (1957) by the magnificent Joy Hester. I see Joy Hester (1920-1960) as one of the most important Australian artists of all time. Her expressionist paintings have enduring significance on modern-day Australian art. She was avant-garde, an intelligent and opinionated artist, and the only woman member of the counter-cultural Angry Penguins, a group of artists and activists who lived, worked and published their political views at Heidi (my favourite place in the world). Hester’s work was influential to other, more widely-known Australian painters such as her ex-husband Albert Tucker, Charles Blackman and Arthur Boyd. Her expressionist art portrays a whimsical but evocative insight into a complex femininity at a time when women painters were not provided many opportunities. She was an inspiration to me in high school and she continues to inspire my sociological imagination to this day.

Credits:

1. National Gallery of Australia (NGA)

2. NGA

3. NGA

4. NGA

5. Joy Hester photographed by Albert Tucker in 1939. State Library of Victoria.