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Theresa Walker

1807 – 1876

Theresa Walker is acknowledged as Australia’s first female sculptor. Born in England, she arrived in South Australia in 1837, aged thirty, having studied painting, drawing and modelling. She lived in South Australia, where she exhibited wax portraits at Adelaide’s first art exhibition in 1847; Sydney; and Hobart. In 1865 she left Melbourne for Mauritius; in 1879 she returned to Adelaide, then moved to various locations in Victoria. She died in 1876 and was buried at her own request in an open wickerwork basket. Around forty sitters have been identified in Walker’s wax portraits; she made duplicates of many. In the catalogue Colonial Sisters: Martha Berkeley and Theresa Walker 1994, Jane Hylton writes ‘Wherever she lived Walker produced portraits of the local citizens, in particular governors and their wives, clergymen and distinguished members of the community.’ Her Tasmanian portrait subjects included Governor Denison and Lady Denison, Dr Nixon, Reverend Hall and Reverend Bedford.

Updated 2018