“In their reconfiguration – indeed disconfiguration – of the human body, they proved a catalyst for one of the most significant shifts in Australian visual history.” Denise Mimmocchi 2004 (1)
Joy Hester (mother) 1920-1960, prominent and prolific Australian artist was given 9 months to live; a child (Sweeney) at her helm, an often absent (working war artist), husband (Albert Tucker). Joy had her artwork, poetry and poverty. Gray was young artist, working in a picture framing business at the back of his mothers’ shop, with a wife and small child, frequent seizures and no time to really paint and live. Joy and Gray were drawn to each other, drawn to escape. They cared and nurtured each other for thirteen years. They drew strength from each other and developed their own sense of self.
Individually they developed their own unique styles and art practice. Joy experienced her most prolific time as an artist during this time. Joy participated in five group shows with the Contemporary Art Society and three solo exhibitions.
The Reeds were wealthy, prominent art patrons who encouraged and financially supported many artists, throughout their lives; including Joy Hester and Gray Smith. They, with many others, forged the development of the Modern Art Movement in Melbourne. Joy’s relationship was clouded with the Reeds adopting Joy’s first son. Joy and Gray wished to live at Heidi to be closer to the Sweeney, this was not to be. However, the myth of their torrid relationship does not equate with the correspondence, which shows both affection, and care, Gray corresponded with the Reeds until they died.
(1)The art of Joy Hester ‘In defence of the Unwritten History” by Denise Mimmocchi 2004.
Woman’s art Journal. Fall 2004/Winter 2005- Volume 25, No.2 Published by Woman’s art Inc.
“leave no space for yearning – The Art of Joy Hester” – Kelly Gellatly – Published Heide Museum of Modern Art – 2001
“Joy Hester” Janine Burke – Published Greenhouse -1983 Smith Estate Private collection
Artwork images sourced from ‘ leave no space for yearning’ 2001