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Portrait of Elizabeth Jolley
, 2003

by Mary Moore

oil on composition board (frame: 152.0 cm x 131.3 cm)

Elizabeth Jolley AO (1923-2007), writer, was born in England, and moved to Western Australia in 1959. She received immediate recognition with the publication of her story collection, Five Acre Virgin, in 1976. Henceforth, her stylistically distinctive examination of women's experience – through novels, radio plays and autobiography – attracted much interest from feminist scholars while also winning her a broad readership. The trilogy My Father's Moon, Cabin Fever and The Georges' Wife (1989–1993) is generally considered the high point of her work. Awarded three honorary doctorates, she won the Age Book of the Year Award twice, and the Miles Franklin Award for The Well (1986).

Mary Moore began formal art training in Perth at the age of fifteen and went on study at the Royal College of Art, London. She won the Portia Geach Memorial Award in 2001. This work, like many of Moore's paintings, is a parallel portrait, with the icons around the frame providing alternative and complementary representations of the sitter. The episodes and symbols of Jolley's life include a hedge of rosemary, windswept wheat fields, a nurse's uniform, Easter lilies, and tame geese. Moore worked from a photograph to paint this portrait, the composition and contents of which were largely decided by Jolley
Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2003
Accession number: 2003.104