The State Library has featured the story of a Red Cliffs born women as part of its month long recognition of women in their library service as part of March being Women’s History month.
As part of the month long celebration the Library is highlighting one woman from Australian history every day this month.
Joyce McGrath was State Library Victoria’s arts librarian, in addition to being a professional artist. This painting is a self portrait she completed in 1957.
Born in Red Cliffs, Victoria, she studied drawing at RMIT University and painting in the studio of artists and teachers Amalie and Archie Colquhoun.
Joyce McGrath had been told that she would require both an undergraduate degree and a postgrad to become a librarian. However, while travelling overseas in 1950, she discovered that that mightn't be the case. She visited the State Library upon her return and asked whether or not she'd be an acceptable employee.
"Yes," was the answer and she became a cadet attendant in the Lending Library. She spent ten years there, completing the study required to be a qualified librarian as she went.
Joyce McGrath then made her way to the Library’s arts library – then an under-utilised resource. Working with the acquisitions librarian Peggy Anthony, Joyce turned it into the largest art collection in an Australian public library and a facility recognised around the world.
By the time of her retirement in 1990, it held approximately 60,000 books and countless items of art memorabilia ranging from periodicals to exhibition catalogues and more.
Footnote: Ms McGrath turned 92 last October 19 and is a recipient of the OAM.