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Betty Churcher Betty Churcher i(A89067 works by) (birth name: Elizabeth Ann Dewar Cameron)
Born: Established: 11 Jan 1931 Brisbane, Queensland, ; Died: Ceased: 31 Mar 2015 Wamboin, Queanbeyan area, Canberra region (NSW), Southeastern NSW, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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Betty Churcher was the first female Director of the National Art Gallery (1990-1997).

She first trained at the Royal College of Art in London, graduating in 1956. She taught in secondary schools, Colleges of Advanced Education and became Dean of Art & Design at Phillip Institute in Melbourne between 1982-87.

Churcher read Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and on returning to Australia was appointed Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia. 

Churcher has advocated for art and the art community through exhibitions, television and publications. in 2012, she received the ACT Senior Australian of the Year Award in recognition of her work.

Most Referenced Works


  • Some sources give date of birth as 1932. 1931 is the date ascribed by the Australian Biography website and also Who's Who in Australia.
  • For further information on Betty Churcher's career and artistic output, see the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online,

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon The Forgotten Notebook Melbourne : Melbourne University Press , 2015 9050544 2015 single work diary

'In the 1990s Betty Churcher drew her way around the galleries of the world as she arranged artwork loans for blockbuster exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia.

'In 2014 she discovered a sketchbook she had forgotten and decided to create a final companion volume to her bestselling Notebooks series. She wrote the manuscript in six months, but died shortly after completing it.

'A prize-winning artist in her own right, Betty's sketches were inspired by works of some of the biggest names in art: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rubens and Vermeer through to Picasso, Cezanne, Monet and Duchamp. Betty's sketches and notes bring their artworks to life as she explores the stories of how they were created and reveals each artist's influences.

'As in the bestselling Notebooks and Australian Notebooks, The Forgotten Notebook showcases Betty Churcher's greatest talents: championing art and sharing the excitement of discovering meaning in the great artworks of the world. ' (Publication summary)

2016 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Illustrated Book of the Year
y separately published work icon Australian Notebooks Carlton : Random House , 2014 7181065 2014 single work prose

'In Australian Notebooks, Betty Churcher revisits some of the artworks she most cherishes—a seminal Picasso, early works of the Heidelberg School, a striking portrait by Lucian Freud—and invites us to look afresh at the treasures that can be found in Australian galleries.

'Taking in the glorious work of Australian artists such as John Olsen, Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan, as well as masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Giambattista Tiepolo, through her own accomplished skteches Betty draws out the particular charm and context of each piece.

'Interwoven with extraordinary stories—one canvas flew off the back of a truck on the Pacific Highway; another was imported from Imperial Russia, paid for with a briefcase full of cash—Betty's engaging insights bring the artworks to life.

'With gorgeous full-colour reproductions, this is a book to turn to again and again for inspiration, solace and delight.' (Publication summary)

2015 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Small Publishers' Adult Book of the Year
y separately published work icon Notebooks Carlton : Melbourne University Publishing , 2011 Z1768899 2011 single work diary travel Betty Churcher is best known as director of the National Gallery of Australia from 1990 - 1997. Betty Churcher's Notebooks is an intimate guide through some of the great art galleries of the world. (Trove record)
2012 shortlisted Indie Awards Nonfiction
Last amended 12 Feb 2020 10:26:08
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