Louise Hearman

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Louise Hearman (born 1963) is an artist from Melbourne who has been painting and drawing from a very young age. At high school level she attended Tintern Church of England Girls Grammar School in Ringwood in East Victoria where she showed much ability in her art classes. She attended Victorian College of the Arts from 1982-1984. She mostly paints with oil on masonite, though she does work with pastel and charcoal from time to time.

Life and career[edit]

She first came to public notice in 1986 when she spent a year painting a mural on the inside of the concrete dome of the old gymnasium at the Missions to Seamen building in Flinders Street in Melbourne. The premises also served as her studio at that time.[1]

In 1991 her work was exhibited at Australian National University's Drill Hall Gallery in a solo show, "The corpreal body", whilst in 1993 she was chosen by the curators for that year's Australia Perspecta exhibition. Her work next gained recognition through an appearance on the short-list for the 1999 Contempora 5 award, whilst in both 2000 and 2005 she was exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia; in 2000 appearing in the "Uncommon World; Aspects of Contemporary Australian Art" exhibition which ran from 15 July until 22 Oct; and in 2005 within the[2] "Big Spooks" exhibition. In 2007 her piece Untitled #1158 was chosen for exhibition as part of the city of Sydney's Open Gallery exhibition, which described the roster of artists chosen as representing "leading Australian and international artists".[3][4][5][6][7]

Her portrait, Bill-1383, won the 2014 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize;[8] while in 2016, she won the Archibald Prize for her portrait of entertainer, satirist, painter and Dadaist, Barry Humphries.[9]

Artistic work[edit]

Hearman’s works are characterised by surreal juxtapositions, eerie light, and strong emotive emphasis. There are recurring themes of floating heads (both of the human and animal kind), sleek aeroplanes, floral close-ups, and limitless roads. Hearman is particularly vague about the meanings of her works, preferring to let the viewers make their own interpretations. This is why she leaves all her works untitled.


Growing up in suburban Croydon, Hearman took to painting and drawing at a young age. As a child she had limited ability to travel, so her initial subjects were the landscape around her. Landscapes have subsequently formed the basis of many of her works.[10]

Clarice Beckett has been identified by Australian arts writer, critic and broadcaster Bruce James as a possible influence on Hearman, James writing in The Sydney Morning Herald in 2002 that "Hearman's interest in uncanny situations and mind states can surely trace its pedigree back to Beckett's twilight zone.".[11]

There has been some speculation that Hearman was influenced by the television show The X-Files.[12] Hearman denies this, stating that she watches very little television, and has not seen the series.[13]


  1. ^ The Age, 1 January 1988
  2. ^ Anna King Murdoch, "The bearable lightness of being Louise Hearman, dark visionary",The Age 10/9/1999
  3. ^ HEARMAN, Louise Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (catalogue search), printsandprintmaking.gov.au. Accessed 2007-10-09.
  4. ^ "blue chip ix catalogue notes" (PDF). Niagara Galleries. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
  5. ^ Uncommon World; National Gallery of Australia (google cache). Accessed 2007-10-09
  6. ^ Big spooks; National Gallery of Australia. Accessed 2007-10-09
  7. ^ City of Sydney, Open Gallery Archived 11 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine; 2007-09-24. Accessed 2007-10-09
  8. ^ 2014 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize - winner, moranprizes.com.au
  9. ^ "Winner: Archibald Prize 2016". Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  10. ^ The Age "Dawn dusk and the power of the mystery" 1/8/1997
  11. ^ James, Bruce; "Paints in the handcart, fire in the soul"; The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 July 2002. Accessed 2007-10-09
  12. ^ The Age, “Dallying with the Dark Side” 30 July 1997
  13. ^ Anna King Murdoch, ‘The bearable lightness of being Louise Hearman, dark visionary " The Age 10/9/1999

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