Thea Proctor

Thea Proctor (1879-1966)

Proctor, a prominent painter and printmaker, attended Julian Ashton’s Art School, and studied briefly in 1903 at St John’s Wood School in London before going on to be taught by George Lambert, an association which turned into a life long friendship. She completed various illustrations for the Australian Magazine and later Home Magazine and brought about awareness of contemporary art in Australia. In 1926 she founded the Contemporary Gallery in Sydney with George Lambert. The aim was to present contemporary artworks painted by Australian artists. Through the influence of Charles Conder, Proctor completed a series of fan paintings, which were exhibited in London, Venice and Australia. In 1914 Proctor went on to try her hand at lithography. In 1925 she and Margaret Preston held a joint exhibition in Melbourne and Sydney devoted to woodcuts.

Thea did not marry and expressed the opinion that ‘a woman who has the care of a home and family needs special courage and determination to practice an art which gives her self expression…. an artist’s work is often discouraging enough when one can give ones life to it’ (Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 14th May 1937). Thea chose a life of art and teaching instead of the traditional family and domestic life and was at the forefront of the modernist movement in Australia. Proctor’s work is held in most state public collections.