On Joy Hester’s late portraits of girls

Sun behind her on threadbare floor,

at thirty-seven, draw

girl and dog in ink,

a yearning, younger self

has dabs of nail polish pink,

girl and gold-washed hound,

peaceful on the (h)earth,

‘gainst the ground of brown.

And did dogged drawing of

Girl with Dog,

Girl with Goanna

Girl with Hat and Far Away

and Girl with a comet tail,

dull the burn of radiotherapy?

Those Girl portraits

hung stark in the winter dark

and shuttered at Heide

from your view

through cigarette smoke and the

hubbub of Hester’s lovers and contemporaries

now streaming into the gallery

from the Field of Reeds.


Joy Hester: Remember me celebrates 100 years since the birth of this significant Australian artist. The exhibition was open at Heide Museum of Modern Art until 14 February, 2021. First published online in Not Very Quiet, September, 2020 when Heide was closed due to covid 19 restrictions the poem ‘On Joy Hester’s late portraits of girls’ is included in Not Very Quiet: the anthology published in 2021 by Recent Work Press.


Tim for taking the photo

Key words

ekphrasis, Joy Hester, the Heide Circle

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