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Sue Walker’s life-long fascination with artists and the arts was influenced by her family background. Her father was an architect with his own practice and her mother an active proponent of the creative arts.      

Sue retired in 2004 after nearly 30 years as founding Director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop (now Australian Tapestry Workshop), and moved to Central Victoria to be near her daughter’s family as the children were growing up. She enjoyed the creative spirit of the region and the friendship of local artists. Within the arts community she contributed as a member of the Public Art Panel of Hepburn Shire, Committee member of Daylesford and Macedon Ranges Open Studios, and Board member Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Sue Walker

Through the next decade, she researched her grandfather’s life and was awarded a Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria in 2016.  Her second book The Untold Story of William Shum: Editor Australian Home Beautiful 1926-46 was published by The Beagle Press in 2024. Her earlier book Australian Artists' Tapestries 1976-2005, for which she was awarded a Doctor of Letters from the University of Melbourne, was published by The Beagle Press in 2006. 

As Director of the Tapestry Workshop from 1976 and working with artists, architects and their clients Sue established a unique collaborative studio, where an ancient art form became an exciting medium for contemporary artists. ​Through the 28 years of her leadership the art of tapestry achieved a vital presence in Australia's cultural life and with remarkable speed, the Workshop became the major provider of public art in the country and an important force in the international world of tapestry.

​Sue was responsible for the production of more than 350 tapestry projects including monumental commissions such as Arthur Boyd’s Reception Hall tapestry for Australia’s Parliament House, the Federation Tapestry at Melbourne Museum, and a number of tapestries now hanging overseas.

​She initiated opportunities for more than 300 artists to work in tapestry, and curated traveling exhibitions of Australian tapestries for major world centres including New York, London, Paris, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Japan, New Zealand, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. She was a key-note speaker at Study Days and Conferences in world centres including Kyoto, Chicago, Beijing, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

In 1988 with her colleague Kate Derum, she convened an International Tapestry Symposium in Melbourne that attracted delegates from 23 countries and resulted in the establishment of a worldwide tapestry network.

Sue has edited and published several full-colour books and catalogues, including her two major books and presented numerous lectures – see her cv for details.

In 2006 she presented the Eighth Annual Lecture for The Gloria F Ross Tapestry Study Centre in America and was subsequently invited to join the Board of the Centre, a position she held until 2009. Sue has received some prestigious awards for her contributions to the arts in Australia.

Dr Sue Walker
Sue Walker National Portrait Gallery

Image: Sue Walker by Lewis Morley 1977; NPG

Sue Walker and Dame Elizabeth Murdoch
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