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About Odd Roads

Odd Roads To Be Walking: 156 Women Who Shaped Australian Art tells the stories of 156 pioneering Australian women from the 19th and 20th centuries.


Scroll down or use the navigation buttons below to find out more about the book. If you would like to learn more about the authors you can click here.


The Book

While the life journeys of many artists can be described as "odd roads," few were as original as the those of the pioneering women artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

As these richly talented women gathered around their easels and shared their dining tables, their courage, energy and generosity shone through.

Odd Roads is an exploration of the extraordinary lives of these women and in the process celebrates their individual and collective contributions to the shaping of modern Australian art.


The book is a lavishly illustrated, large-format publication which includes more than 300 magnificent illustrations and the biographies of 156 women. It brings to you art as diverse as the exquisite botanical drawings of Ellis Rowan (1848-1922) to the striking graphic works of Kerry Giles (Kurwingie) (1959-1997).

To get a fuller sense of the book, the foreword and introduction can be read in the following section, a list of the 156 women in the next, and at the bottom of this page is a slideshow of featured artworks.

"This book is like soul food. I shall dip in and out of it reading about an artist a day"

—Elizabeth Cooke, reader and Everywoman

"It’s a most wonderful book for people who just want to know more about our inspiring Australian women artists."

Bronwyn Wright, granddaughter of artist Hilda Rix Nicholas, whose artwork features on the front cover.

The Title

The title of the book recalls a line from Virginia Woolf’s classic 1927 novel, To the Lighthouse: "It was an odd road to be walking, this of painting. Out and out one went, farther and farther, until at last one seemed to be on a narrow plank, perfectly alone, over the sea".

Lily Briscoe, a young artist, speaks this line, just after she has been told that "women can't paint or write."  Her solitariness and the rigour as well as oddity of her path, her artist focus and practice, rings through her words. She seems to transcend the social stigma of her time, as do all of the women in Odd Roads. 

About the Book

An Extract

Click the pdf icon to read an extract from the book which contains the book's introduction and a foreword by Dr. Catriona Moore of the University of Sydney.

Read an extract from the book below which contains the book's introduction and a foreword by Dr. Catriona Moore of the University of Sydney. If the viewer doesn't appear or you wish to download directly, click the pdf icon.


The 156 Women

Mary Cecil Allen • Curzona Allport • Edith Alsop • Ethel Anderson • Christina Asquith Baker

Yvonne Atkinson • AME Bale • Caroline Barker • Elsie Barlow • Margaret Baskerville

 Clarice Beckett • Jean Bellette • Portia Bennett • Dorrit Black • Vera Blackburn • Elise Blumann

Stella Bowen • Minnie Boyd • Hermia Boyd • Florence Broadhurst • Phyllis Brodziak • Lina Bryans

Norma Bull • Enid Cambridge • Ethel Carrick Fox • Maie Casey • Alice Chapman • Evelyn Chapman Dora Chapman • Mary Cockburn Mercer • Myra Cocks • Margaret Coen • Elaine Coghlan

Ola Cohn • Dorothy Coleman • Amalie Colquhoun • Grace Cossington Smith • Sybil Craig

Peggy Crombie • Grace Crowley • Janet Cumbrae Stewart • Anne Dangar • Beatrice Darbyshire

Bessie Davidson • Aileen Dent • Frances Derham • Shay Docking • Brownie Downing

Elizabeth Durack • Moya Dyring • Cordula Ebatarinja • Bernice Edwell • Mary Edwell-Burke

Mary Alice Evatt • Joy Ewart • Alma Figuerola • Madge Freeman • Florence Fuller

Rosalie Gascoigne • Portia Geach • May Gibbs • Bessie Gibson • Agnes Goodsir

Gwendolyn Grant • Ina Gregory • Norah Gurdon • Alice Hambidge • Helen Hambidge

Millicent Hambidge • Barbara Hanrahan • Dore Hawthorne • Elaine Haxton • Joy Hester

Margel Hinder • Edith Holmes • Mabel Hookey • Nan Hortin • Dora Jarret • Constance Jenkins

Marion Jones • Emily Kame Kngwarreye • Kerry Giles (Kurwingie) • Vida Lahey • Eleonore Lange

Pat Larter • Ailsa Lee-Brown • Margo Lewers • Aletta Lewis • Mildred Lovett • Mary Macqueen

Marguerite Mahood • Peg Maltby • Tempe Manning • May Marsden • Daphne Mayo

Mahdi McCrae • Sheila McDonald • Violet McInnes • Queenie McKenzie • Isabel McWhannell

Dora Meeson • Ludmilla Meilerts • Bertha Merfield • Mary Meyer • Anne Montgomery

Eirene Mort • Miriam Moxham • Josephine Muntz-Adams • Kate O’Connor • Ailsa O’Connor

Ida Outhwaite • Gladys Owen • Mary Packer Harris • Ethleen Palmer • Adelaide Perry

Ada Plante • Margaret Preston • Jane Price • Thea Proctor • Iso Rae • Sunday Reed

Alison Rehfisch • Gladys Reynell • Hilda Rix Nicholas • Freda Robertshaw • Florence Rodway

Ellis Rowan • Ellen Rubbo • Kathleen Sauerbier • Jessie Scarvell • Dora Serle • Maud Sherwood

Phyllis Shillito • Norah Simpson • Treania Smith • Clara Southern • Ethel Spowers

Ethel Anna Stephens • Constance Stokes • Dorothy Stoner • Jane Sutherland • Ruth Sutherland

Jo Sweatman • Eveline Syme • Violet Teague • Dora Toovey • Jessie Traill

Edith Trethowan• Marie Tuck • Isabel May Tweddle • May Vale • Violet Vimpany

Christian Waller • Phyl Waterhouse • Dora Wilson • Margery Withers

156 Women

The Art

Odd Roads contains over 300 images. Over 150 works by the artists are represented  in faithful and vibrant colour. The images have been carefully selected to include both well-known and less well-known ones. The source of the images is inclusive with the major galleries statewide and regional galleries, libraries, private collections and universities combining to provide a balanced birds-eye view of what the nation holds in stock.


Finding portraits of the artists proved to be a job for a sleuth. Aileen Finucane assisted greatly with this area. After extensive searching, only a few of the artists images remain unaccounted for. If anyone can provide us with the missing ladies, we would be very grateful!

Ellis Rowan, Red Blossom, n.d.
Gouache on khaki cardboard,
53 x 75.5 cm.
Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art,
The University of Western Australia.

"It was an odd road to be walking, this of painting. Out and out one went, farther and farther, until at last one seemed to be on a narrow plank, perfectly alone, over the sea." 

                               — Virginia Woolf,

To The Lighthouse, 1927

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