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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) was a West Australian writer. Born in England, she worked as a nurse during the war and after migrating to Western Australia in 1959, when she also worked as a cleaner and saleswoman. 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 and fears attracted much interest from feminist scholars, but her dozen novels, numerous radio plays and a collection of autobiographical pieces also won her a broad local and overseas readership. The trilogy My Father's Moon, Cabin Fever and The Georges' Wife (1989-1993) is generally considered the high point of her work. She taught creative writing at Curtin University for more than 30 years. Holder of three honorary doctorates, she won the Age Book of the Year Award twice, and the Miles Franklin Award for The Well (1986).

Mary Moore is a West Australian artist. She began formal art training in Claremont at the age of fifteen, holding her first solo show two years later. She later studied at the Royal College of Art, London, and gained an Australia Council award that enabled her to paint in Italy. In 2001 she won the Portia Geach Prize for a compelling self-portrait; the same year, she was one of six artists featured in the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Intimate Portraits. 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 subject in the centre. The episodes and symbols of Jolley's life around the frame 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, Canberra
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2003
Accession number: 2003.104