painter, was born in Elsternwick, Victoria. She attended St Michael’s Church of England Girls’ Grammar School in 1933-35 before commencing one year of a commercial art course at Brighton Technical School. She started in the Drawing School of the National Gallery School in 1937 and completed one and a half years, leaving in mid-1938 despite winning a prize for drawing the head from life at the annual students’ exhibition. In 1937 she met the painter Albert Tucker whom she was to marry in 1941; in 1945 they had a son, Sweeney.
During the period 1937-42 she met and became friendly with several artists who are now recognised as the most significant of their generation: Sidney Nolan, Danila Vassilieff, Josl Bergner , Noel Counihan , Arthur Boyd and John Perceval . She was also associated with John Reid and his wife, Sunday, whose home at Heidelberg, Heide, became a centre for many of these artists (c.1940-47).
In 1947 Joy Hester was diagnosed as having Hodgkins’s disease, a malignant cancer of the lymph glands. She moved to Sydney with Gray Smith, leaving Tucker and her son in Melbourne. She married Gray Smith in 1959; there were two children, Peregrine and Fern, from her second marriage.
In her lifetime, Hester had three solo exhibitions: in 1950, 1953 and 1956. She was a foundation member of the Contemporary Art Society and exhibited many times in its annual shows. After returning to Melbourne in 1948, she lived in the semi-rural countryside around Melbourne, at Hurstbridge, Avonsleigh and Upwey, before moving to Box Hill in 1956 where she had her own studio for the first time.
Joy Hester produced a large body of drawings in the period 1939-58. She rarely used oils; instead, from early in her career, she devoted herself to using ink and Chinese brushwork to create her expressionistic, personal images. Her subjects were those of personality and intimacy; faces, lovers and relationships between people were the basis and inspiration of her art. Joy Hester died in 1960 after fighting the disease for 13 years.