Joy Hester

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Joy Hester
Joy Hester portrait.jpg
Hester
Born
Joy St Clair Hester

(1920-08-21)21 August 1920
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died4 December 1960(1960-12-04) (aged 40)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
NationalityAustralian
Known forPainting Drawing
MovementAngry Penguins

Joy St Clair Hester (21 August 1920 – 4 December 1960) was an Australian artist. She was a member of the Angry Penguins movement and the Heide Circle who played an integral role in the development of Australian Modernism.[1] Hester is best known for her bold and expressive ink drawings.[1] Her work was charged with a heightened awareness of mortality due to the death of her father during her childhood, the threat of war, and her personal experience with Hodgkin's Disease.[2] Hester is most well known for the series Face, Sleep, and Love (1948–49)[3] as well as the later works, The Lovers (1956–58).[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Hester was born on the 21st of August, 1920 and raised in Elwood to middle-class parents Louise and Robert Hester. Robert died from a heart attack when Hester was twelve.[4] Hester studied art from an early age and was a student at St Michael's Grammar School from 1933 to 1937.[5] At 17, Hester enrolled in Commercial Art at Brighton Technical School for one year before leaving to attend the National Gallery School in Melbourne.[6] Her curriculum was based in traditional media and practice, however Hester took the opportunity to break free from formal restraints.[2] In 1938 Hester won the Gallery School’s Drawing Head from Life prize.[7] Taking up classes at both the Design school, and Painting and Life school gave her early recognition.[2] Her work during this time, though bound by tradition, was concerned with shadow and tonal shading, the relationships between dark and light.[2]

Heide Period[edit]

In 1938 Hester met fellow artist Albert Tucker and began living with him intermittently in East Melbourne.[7] During the same year Hester became a founding member of the Contemporary Art Society (CAS), exhibiting with them annually.[8] Hester met Melbourne-based art patron Sunday Reed in 1939 at the Herald Exhibition, which brought British and French artworks to Australia for the first time.[7] The two became friends, with Reed nurturing Hester’s artistic talent.[7] Spending much of her time at Heide with Sunday and her husband John Reed, Hester became a member of the Heide Circle.[1] She was a contemporary of Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, John Perceval, Yosl Bergner and Danila Vassilieff during this period.[1] The Heide Circle worked as an extension of the Angry Penguins magazine.[9] Hester was the only woman to be featured in the Angry Penguins publication.[10]

One of her most significant works from this time was Nude Study, (c. 1939-41).[2] It was her first use of bold, fluid black line work, which is what she is known for today.[2]

During the early 40s, Hester began depicting the ambience of daily life, via ink drawings of street scenes and factory workers.[2] She was influenced by artist Ailsa O'Connor, who had similar concerns in her work.[2] Hester was also drawn to the work of Vassilieff for his philosophical views about how art and life could not be separated.[2]

By the mid 40s, Hester relinquished her interest in oil painting to concentrate solely on watercolor and inks.[1] Her focus shifted towards the motif of the human face, specifically the expression in the eyes.[11] Using minimal and assertive ink strokes, she rendered her figures with emotional intensity.[1] A Frightened Woman (1945) served as a seminal point in establishing Hester’s style and media moving forward. Hester works aimed to capture the psychological horror of World War II.[2]

Hester and Tucker married 1941.[12] Five years later Hester gave birth to a son, Sweeney Reed (1944–1979).[7] In 1947, when Sweeney was three, Hester was diagnosed with terminal Hodgkin's lymphoma.[7] Believing she had only 2 years to live, she decided to move to Sydney to live with Melbourne artist Gray Smith, and gave her son into the care of John and Sunday Reed, who subsequently adopted him.[10] Illness impacted heavily on Hester's work and left an indelible mark, loading it with emotional content.[2] During this period Hester produced the drawings that became part of her notable Face, Sleep and Love series.[10] These works were exhibited alongside Hester’s poetry in 1950 at her first solo show at the Melbourne Bookclub Gallery.

Later life[edit]

Hester had two subsequent solo exhibitions in 1955 and 1956[2] but struggled to sell her art.[11] She typically worked on a small scale in black ink and wash, however, Australian modernism favoured large oil paintings,[11] like those of Nolan.[13] Hester’s work failed to garner the same recognition her male peers received, dismissed by critics as “angst-ridden”.[4]

The Lovers series (1956–58) were indicative of her maturing and expressive style. She also published poetry and used her drawings to illustrate her words.[11]

Joy and Roger had two children a son Peregrine in 1951, and a daughter Fern in 1954.[11] The couple married in 1959.[9] After a period of remission Hester suffered a relapse of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1956 and died on 4 December 1960, aged 40.[14] Hester was laid to rest at the Box Hill Cemetery in an unmarked grave, at her behest.[1]

Legacy[edit]

John and Sunday Reed organised a commemorative exhibition of Hester's work in 1963.[15] In 1978 a street in the Canberra suburb of Chisholm was named Hester Place in her honour.[16] In 1981, Janine Burke, Hester's biographer, curated the first major retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria.[17] Hester's life and work was the subject of a documentary, The Good Looker, in 1995.[18] A plaque was erected in 1999 at the Box Hill Cemetery in honour of Hester’s contribution to the arts.[19] Reviewing her work for Time in 2001, Michael Fitzgerald wrote "Forty-one years after her death, Hester's drawings still suck the oxygen from the air, providing some of the clearest-eyed images in Australian art".[17] In 2018 her Love and The Lovers series of works featured in a joint exhibit with Patricia Piccinini at TarraWarra Museum of Art. Piccinini credited Hester as a major influence on her own practice; stating: "I love the way her painting, especially those with merged features, are simultaneously surreal and figurative. I am really interested in depictions of love and intimacy in my own work, so I find Hester's approach very inspiring". [20]

Exhibitions[edit]

Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • Melbourne Book Club Gallery, 6 February 1950 - 17 February 1950,  Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Mirka Cafe, July - August, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Gallery of Contemporary Art, 9 April 1957 - 23 April 1957, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Posthumous Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • Joy Hester, 3 September 1963 - 21 September 1963, Museum of Modern Art and Design of Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Drawings by Joy from a private collection, 2 August 1966 - 12 August 1966, South Yarra Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Joy Hester Graphics, 20 October 1970 - 2 November 1970, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Joy Hester, 6 October 1976 - 25 October 1976, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Joy Hester, April 1977 - May 1977, Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
  • Joy Hester, Early Works on Paper, 14 June 1980 - 3 July 1980, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Joy Hester Retrospective, 29 September 1981 - 5 December 1981, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Joy Hester, Early Works, 2 March 1982 - 18 March 1982, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Joy Hester: Remember Me, 21 March 2020 - 14 June 2020, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Group Exhibitions[edit]

  • Contemporary Art Society Inaugural Exhibition, 6 June 1939 - 25 June 1939, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, 12 October 1941 - 31 October 1941, Hotel Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, 4 August 1942 - 15 August 1942, Athenaeum Art Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, 4 August 1943 - 15 August 1943, Velasquez Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, 21 August 1945 - 31 August 1945, Myer Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, November 1946, Education Building, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Royal Tour Contemporary Art Exhibition, February 1954 - March 1954, Mirka’s Studio, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Commemorative Exhibition, 6 April 1954 - 23 April 1954, Tye’s Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, 10 May 1955 - 21 May 1955, Preston Motors, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Drawing Exhibition, 19 October 1955 - November 1955, Mirka’s Studio, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Inaugural Gift Exhibition, 1 June 1956 - 16 June 1956, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Victoria Australia.
  • Olympic Exhibition, 16 November 1956 - 18 December 1956, organised by the Contemporary Art Society in conjunction with the Gallery of Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Poem, March 1957 - April 1957, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Contemporary Art Society Annual interstate Exhibition, 26 November 1957 - 6 December 1957, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Collection, 30 September 1958 - 10 October 1958, Museum of Modern Art of Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Herald Outdoor Art Show, 6 March 1959 - 14 March 1959, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, Australia.

Posthumous Group Exhibitions[edit]

  • Paintings from the collection of Mr & Mrs Carnegie, 27 October 1966 - 30 November 1966, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Paintings from the collection of Allen D. Christensen, 7 December 1976 - 22 December 1976, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • The Heroic Years of Australian Painting: 1940-65, 1977, touring exhibition.
  • Project 21: Women's Images of Women, 15 October 1977 - 13 November 1977, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Spring Exhibition, 24 October 1977 - 7 November 1977, Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Genesis of a Gallery, Part 2, 1978, from the Collection of the Australian National Gallery, touring exhibition.
  • Autumn Exhibition, 7 April 1978 - 20 April 1978, Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Aspects of Australian Drawing, 1979, Art Gallery of Western Australia, touring exhibition.
  • Australian Drawings of the Thirties and Forties, 21 February 1980 - 1 April 1980, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Inaugural Exhibition, 12 November 1981 - January 1982, Heide Park and Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Glimpses of the Forties, 12 September 1982 - 7 November 1982, Heide Park and Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • In the Company of Women: 100 years of Australian women's art from the Cruthers collection, 16 February 1995 - 13 March 1995, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Western Australia.
  • Women hold up half the sky, March 1995 - April 1995, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
  • Review, 8 March 1995 - 8 June 1995, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Eveolution: An exhibition of women's art from the Newcastle Region Art Gallery collection, 1995, 9 March 1995 - June 1995, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
  • A l'hombre des jeunes filles et des fleurs: In the shadow of young girls and flowers, 10 March 1995 - 28 May 1995, Benalla Art Gallery, Benalla , Victoria, Australia.
  • Arthur Boyd: Family and Friends, 1997, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
  • Modern Australian Women: paintings and prints 1925-1945, 24 November 2000 - 25 February 2001, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
  • Joy Hester and Friends, 1 September 2001 - 28 October 2001, National Gallery of Australia, ACT, Australia.
  • Those Who Made and Those Who Saw: Portraits of the Heide Circle, 3 November 2007 - 15 June 2008, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen, Victoria.
  • Look, Look Again, 20 October 2011 - 15 December 2012, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.
  • Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester: Through Love…, 24 November 2018 - 11 March 2019, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria, Australia.

Collections[edit]

Due to Hester’s prominence in shaping Australian modernism alongside her Heide Circle counterparts, many Australian Institutions have acquired her work.

Published Poems, Letters and Miscellaneous by Joy Hester[edit]

  • To the Editor, Argus,  23 August 1940, p. 5.
  • ‘Untitled’, A Comment, March, 1943, no.5, n.p.
  • ‘Micetto, Father of Kisses’, and ‘Awake’, Em Malley’s Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, November, 1952, pp. 18–19
  • Memorial Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture of Danila Cassilieff, Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, June, 1956. Catalogue note by Hester.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Burke, Janine, 1952- (1983). Joy Hester. Hester, Joy, 1920-1960. Richmond, Vic., Australia: Greenhouse Publications. ISBN 0909104603. OCLC 11370322.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hart, Deborah, 1959- (2001). Joy Hester and friends. Hester, Joy, 1920-1960., National Gallery of Australia. Canberra: National Gallery of Australia. ISBN 0642541655. OCLC 49763040.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Burke, Janine, "Hester, Joy St Clair (1920–1960)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 15 October 2019
  4. ^ a b Macgill, Belinda (January 2000). "Joy Hester: a subjective approach". Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art. 1 (1): 79–93. doi:10.1080/14434318.2000.11432655. ISSN 1443-4318.
  5. ^ "Joy Hester b. 1920 Elsternwick, Melbourne, Vic". Design and Art Australia Online. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  6. ^ Burke, Janine (1996). "Hester, Joy St Clair (1920-1960)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 14 March 2008 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Hester, Joy, 1920-1960. (1995). Dear Sun : the letters of Joy Hester and Sunday Reed. Reed, Sunday, 1905-1981., Burke, Janine, 1952-. Port Melbourne, Vic.: William Heinemann Australia. ISBN 0855616512. OCLC 34338334.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Hester, Joy (1920-1960) - People and organisations". Trove. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Joy Hester :: The Collection :: Art Gallery NSW". www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Burke, Janine, "Hester, Joy St Clair (1920–1960)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 15 October 2019
  11. ^ a b c d e Mimmocchi, Denise (2004). "The Art of Joy Hester: "In Defence of Unwritten History"". Woman's Art Journal. 25 (2): 16–20. doi:10.2307/3566512. ISSN 0270-7993. JSTOR 3566512.
  12. ^ "Family Notices". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 2 May 1941. p. 4. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  13. ^ FITZGERALD, MICHAEL (10 September 2001). "Love and Pain Neglected for decades, Joy Hester's art explores human emotions with an unflinching eye". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  14. ^ Burke, Janine, "Hester, Joy St Clair (1920–1960)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 15 October 2019
  15. ^ Burke, Janine (2001). "Joy Hester". Art Collector (17). Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  16. ^ "Schedule 'B' National Memorials Ordinance 1928-1972 Street Nomenclature List of Additional Names with Reference to Origin - Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Special (National : 1977 - 2012) - 8 Feb 1978". Trove. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  17. ^ a b Fitzgerald, Michael (10 September 2001). "Love and Pain Neglected for decades, Joy Hester's art explores human emotions with an unflinching eye". Time. New York City. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  18. ^ "The Good Looker (1995)". Australian Screen Online. National Film and Sound Archive. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Joy Hester 1920 - 1960 BillionGraves Record". BillionGraves. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Patricia Piccinini & Joy Hester: Through Love..." by Victoria Lynn, TarraWarra Museum of Art: 2018, ISBN 978 0 9944552 7 7, p15

Further reading[edit]

  • Australian Poetry, 1953, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1953.
  • Blackman, Charles and Barbara, ‘Joy Hester - Her Art’, Art and Australia, vol. 1, no 18. Spring 1980, p. 68.
  • Burke, Janine, Australian Gothic: A Life of Albert Tucker, Sydney: Knopf, 2002.
  • Burke, Janine, Australian Women Artists, 1840-1940, Greenhouse Publications, Melbourne 1980.
  • Burke, Janine (ed.), Dear Sun: The Letters of Joy Hester and Sunday Reed, Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1995.
  • Burke, Janine ‘Joy Hester’, Lip, 1980, p. 58.
  • Burke, Janine, Joy Hester, Melbourne: Greenhouse Publications, 1983; Sydney: Vintage, reprint 2001.
  • Burke, Janine, The Heart Garden: Sunday Reed and Heide, Sydney: Knopf, 2002.
  • Grant, Kirsty, Heide Through Time, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2015.
  • Haese, Richard, Rebels Precursors, The Revolutionary Years of Australian art, Allen Lane, Melbourne 1981.
  • Hart, Deborah, Joy Hester and friends, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2001.
  • Keon, Michael, Joy Hester: An Unsettling World, North Caulfield, Victoria: Malakoff Fine Art Press, 1993.
  • Morgan, Kendrah, Lesley Harding, Sunday's Kitchen - Food & Living at Heide, The Miegunyah Press, 2010.
  • Morgan, Kendrah, Lesley Harding, Modern Love, Melbourne University Publishing, Melbourne, 2015.
  • Morgan, Kendrah, Lesley Harding, Sunday’s Garden - Growing Heide, Miegunyah Press, 2012.
  • Reid, Barrett, ‘Joy Hester, Draughtsman of Identity’, Art and Australia, vol. 4, no. 1, June, 1966, p. 40.
  • Reid, Barrett (ed.), Modern Australian Art, Museum for Modern Art, Melbourne, 1958.
  • Syme, Eveline, “Women and Art’, in F. Fraser and Nettie Palmer (ed.), The Century Gift Book, Robertson and Mullens, Melbourne, 1934.

External links[edit]