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A tribute

Prompted by International Women's Day this month, it made me think of three women who have left an indelible mark on my life. Of course there are others, but these three have significantly inspired my own artistic aspirations, creative development and encouraged me to be brave in staying true to myself on life's path.

JOY (Joycelyn) HARMES, 1929 - 1998

My mother was a very creative and artistic woman who attended Elam School of Art in Auckland, New Zealand, before going on to work as an illustrator for many years, producing a wide variety of beautiful, high quality and widely admired work. I grew up looking over her shoulder while she painted, which inspired me to draw and paint from an early age. She was always so supportive and encouraged me on my journey as a young woman exploring my creativity and following my passions. Photo taken of Joy as an art student in 1946.


Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings gave me the initial inspiration to paint flowers and look at things the way I do. But it was also the way she lived her life as a female artist that has also been such an inspiration, with her determination and commitment to follow her path, continuing to explore, create and push boundaries as an artist and as an independent woman. I can’t think of another female artist who’s life and art that has inspired me more.


Artist, activist, feminist, neighbour and a true friend. I was very fortunate to have Christine Hillier as my neighbour for several years, where our shared passion for art brought us close and a deep friendship grew. She was an intensely strong and caring woman with an encyclopaedic knowledge of 20th century British art and herself a very talented and productive artist. She repeatedly encouraged me to get painting again, but sadly she passed away unexpectedly before she saw me do it. However, her inspiring life, expansive knowledge, humour and many words of wisdom remain with me and always will. Photo taken of Christine walking in her beloved Chilterns, the subject of much of her work.


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