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Hanrahan, Barbara Janice (1939–1991)

The Australia art and literature worlds are mourning this week the death of prominent South Australian author and artists, Barbara Hanrahan, who died on Sunday. 

Born in 1939 and raised at Thebarton, Ms Hanrahan was well known for her artwork and her largely autobiographical novels on daily life. 

Ms Hanrahan attended the SA School of Art from 1957 to 1960 and taught print-making at the school until 1963, when she began studying at London’s Central School of Art.

Maori art and the designs on playing cards were strong influences in her prints. 

Her artwork was exhibited in many countries, including London, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Scotland, Canada and the United States. 

Ms Hanrahan’s artwork was also represented in galleries throughout the country, including the Australian National Gallery. 

As an author, Ms Hanrahan concentrated on the everyday details of life, recording in particular the minute details of Adelaide. By the late 1960s, her work as a novelist started to claim most of her time. 

Her first novel, The Scent of Eucalyptus, was written in London when she was 31. 

The Arts Minister, Ms Levy, said yesterday Ms Hanrahan’s work had ‘perfectly encapsulated’ the feeling of Adelaide in the 1930s and 1960s. 

‘I feel part of my childhood has gone with her death,’ said Ms Levy. 

Ms Hanrahan is survived by her partner, Adelaide sculptor Mr Jo Steele, with whom she had lived for many years.

Original publication

  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 4 December 1991, p 12

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'Hanrahan, Barbara Janice (1939–1991)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 March 2020.

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