Talking History – The letters between Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen (BOOKED OUT)

Professor Catherine Speck presents April’s Talking History lecture – The letters between Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen

Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen are Australia’s most well-known father-daughter artistic duo. This lecture will explore how this dynamic motivated Professor Speck’s interest in their letters to each other written from the time Nora moved to London in 1934 until Hans Heysen died in 1968. During that time Nora Heysen won the Archibald Prize, was appointed an official war artist, fell in love with a married man, Robert Black, with whom she lived with and eventually married, relocated to Sydney, and travelled extensively to the Pacific. Hans Heysen was knighted, sat on the board of the National Art Gallery of South Australia and was well connected to leading figures in the Australian art world. The letters take readers into these events, life at The Cedars and Sallie Heysen’s role there, and the art itself.


This free public lecture is part of the History Trust’s Talking History series.

Doors open at 5pm. Lecture will commence at 5.30pm. Book online here.

History Trust of South Australia, Torrens Parade Ground, off Victoria Drive, Adelaide, SA.

Parking available on Torrens Parade Ground. Light refreshments provided before the lecture.

Wine sponsor – O’Leary Walker Wines. Visit


Catherine Speck is Professor of Art History at the University of Adelaide, and a Fellow of the Academy of Humanities of Australia. She has been a long time convener of postgraduate programs in Art History and Curatorial and Museum Studies taught jointly by the University of Adelaide and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Her publications include Heysen to Heysen: Selected Letters of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen (2019, 2011) Australian Art Exhibitions: Opening our Eyes (with Joanna Mendelssohn, Catherine De Lorenzo and Alison Inglis (2018); and ‘Forging Culture: Australian Art in the Nineteenth Century’, in A Companion to Nineteenth Century Art (2018); Beyond the Battlefield: Women Artists of the Two World Wars (2014); and Painting Ghosts (2004). She is a member of the Fay Gale Centre for Research into Gender, and the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice.