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Mrs Grey
, c. 1845

by Theresa Walker

cast wax (frame: 19 cm x 19 cm depth 3.5 cm diameter 19.0 cm)

Theresa Walker (née Chauncy) was an original. One contemporary, a Mrs Edwards of Germanton, described her as ‘one of the three great women I have known during a long life.’ On the other hand, the Rev. Mr Holden of Adelaide wrote of her ‘marked peculiarities of character’, and her own brother noted her ‘lack of discretion in reference to matters of every day life.’ Notwithstanding (or perhaps on account of) this apparent eccentricity, Walker is an important though neglected figure in early colonial settler art: Australia’s first woman sculptor. She and her sister, the equally-gifted painter Martha Berkeley, were amongst the most accomplished artists working in South Australia during the 1840s. During this period Theresa made low relief wax profiles of the colony’s leading citizens. Walker also took photographs, although only a couple of her salted paper prints survive. Interestingly, in the light of this display, they are images of drawings by Yakaduna (Tommy McRae), made when she lived near him at Barnawatha in Victoria in the early 1860s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 1999
Accession number: 1999.52.2