April, 1947. The artist Joy Hester - the beautiful peroxide-blonde bombshell of the Melbourne art world - discovers she is dying of cancer. She is 27 years old. Hester responds to the news as only Hester could - within days, she abandons her artist husband Albert Tucker, leaves her two-year-old son Sweeney asleep in his cot and runs off to Sydney with a lover ....
Joy Hester is now one of the rising stars of Australian art - and she's been dead for more than thirty years. Critics are now beginning to compare her seriously with her old friends, lovers, husbands and comrades - Nolan, Boyd, Tucker, Blackman, Perceval. For ten years, collectors have been quietly buying the few Hester's that come on to the market - and the prices are rising steadily.
Apart from the sheer beauty of Joy Hester's story, this film sets out to make an important point: that women artists of the present and future will not be taken as seriously as their work warrants until the great women artists of the past are properly recognized. A simple test of this proposition: think of Australia's top artists of the present - the household names, the famous and feted - and try to find a single woman among them.
As the artist Mirka Mora says, "Hester is not important because she is a woman, but because she left great work."
This is a film about one of the great larrikins of Australian art, a woman who remains vibrantly alive in the memory of anyone who knew her, one of Australia's great artists - the first to deal head-on with the the inner world of love, sexuality and male-female relationships - and an artist to whom recognition as has been a long time coming.
A film by Claire Jager
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