Australia loses an art icon

Betty Churcher, one of the most beloved art figures in Australia, passed away yesterday. Churcher was a passionate promoter of the arts who put Australia on the art world map with her daring and extremely popular exhibitions. Churcher died peacefully last night, surrounded by her family.

As the Director of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) from 1990–1997, Churcher was known as ‘Betty Blockbuster’ for the highly successful shows she curated. Churcher will be remembered for her enormous contributions to the Australian art community. In fact, she was considered the public face of art for many Australians.

“Betty was a towering figure in the Australian art community and loved by so many,” says current Director of the NGA, Gerard Vaughan. “She will always be remembered here with deep affection for her tireless promotion of our visual culture, including her role as a popular presenter on TV, and I am reminded daily of her contribution to the nation.”

We spoke with InvoCare Communications Manager Karl Wolfenden and asked him whether it was appropriate to grieve for the loss of what someone meant to a nation, rather than the loss of the individual themselves?

Karl said: “Yes. It is okay. Grief can stem from unexpected sources and so it is understandable that the passing of a figure from our shared culture can be a trigger. Grief causes us to yearn for a world that, due to the loss, is now unattainable, and this will affect us in different ways. If you are experiencing a sense of loss like this at anyone’s passing, or for any reason at all, be aware that you are experiencing grief and adjust your interactions with yourself and the world around you accordingly.”

We offer our condolences to the Churcher family, and thank Betty Churcher for her marvellous contributions to Australian arts and culture.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.