Heysen to Heysen: Selected letters - Art Collector

26 September 2011 | Hans Heysen was a prominent landscape artist and his daughter Nora achieved some success as a painter too, earning her first solo exhibition as a 22 year old in 1933. She later became the first woman to win the Archibald Prize.

The volume of letters between the two has been edited by art academic Catherine Speck, who was able to interview Nora Heysen in the 1980s and 1990s and has since published a number of volumes on the relationship between the two famous Heysens.

Letter writing may be a dying art but it’s certainly more revealing than the emails and texting that have replaced it. The Heysens discuss their thoughts on exhibitions, describe people they’ve met and analyse how their work is progressing and the obstacles and challenges they are facing. (There are snippets of regular family life too. Money is a recurring theme. “The inevitable day has come and I am broke and want to appeal for a loan from Daddy,” writes Nora in one letter from 1936.)

The volume is illustrated very sparingly with a handful of pictures of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen’s work as well as select photos.

Heysen to Heysen: Selected letters of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen has been published by the National Library of Australia.

Jane O'Sullivan

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