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Waterhouse, Joyce (1887 - 1966)

27 April 1887
North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
13 December 1966
South Australia, Australia


Joyce Waterhouse was an amateur Pictorialist landscape photographer. She travelled widely, taking photographs in India, Indonesia, New Zealand and North Africa, as well as of locations throughout Australia. She enlarged and printed her own photographs and was able to support herself financially with the sale of her travel photography. She exhibited her work in South Australia and Victoria.


Joyce Waterhouse is known for her Pictorialist landscape photography. She exhibited her works mainly in South Australia and Victoria.

She was born on 27 April 1887 into a very affluent North Adelaide family. Her parents were Arthur and Laura Waterhouse (née Morgan) and her grandfather on her mother's side was Sir William Morgan, Premier of South Australia. Her father was a prosperous banker who had made his money from the gold rush. Arthur and Laura had three daughters of whom Joyce was the youngest, and a son. Every summer the children were cared for by governesses at their Mount Lofty House in the Adelaide Hills. The remainder of the year was spent at their North Adelaide home where servants saw to their needs.

Waterhouse showed an early interest in photography and by the age of thirteen she was taking snapshots of animals. This interest was encouraged by her father, who gave her a gold- embossed suede photo album. Unlike Most Australians, her family was not greatly affected by the Depression of the 1890s and around this time they travelled to England regularly in order that her father could pursue his interest in hunting. In 1897 Joyce and her sisters spent two years in England attending a girls' school and on their return were said to have introduced women's hockey to Adelaide. They also attended a finishing school in Dresden in 1903.

In 1910 the family travelled to England for another hunting trip. On this occasion they took their own horses and a groom. In 1915, Joyce was once again on her way to England when she was exposed to the plight of wounded soldiers who had fought at Gallipoli. It was an event that caused her to delay her trip for some weeks and assist in the hospitals. Once in England, she completed an intensive course in physiotherapy and worked at the Irish Army hospital during 1916-1917, eventually making her way to Egypt in the final year of the war, before returning to Australia in 1919 on a troop ship.

During the 1920s Waterhouse wore her hair in a bob and smoked cigarettes. Her adventurous spirit is clear from the fact that she also travelled widely in the twenty years that followed. She owned her own car, which she drove throughout Australia, from Central Australia to the Flinders Ranges and onto Mt Kosciusko, where she became a capable skier. She also travelled to India, Indonesia, New Zealand and North Africa, all the time collecting 'fine examples of weaving' (Australian Gallery Directors Council 27).

Waterhouse took many photographs of the foreign places to which she travelled. Some were snap shots and others more composed landscape studies. She enlarged and printed her own photographs and was able to support herself with the photographs she took on these travels. In 1930 she exhibited some of her works at the South Australian Photographic Society, with her photograph, Winter, being purchased by the Art Gallery of South Australia at the time. In 1930 she travelled to the Scottish Hebrides and began living a simpler life, staying in a crofter's cottage and learning how to spin, dye yarn and weave. On her return to Australia she built a cottage for herself at Mt. Lofty and was said to live a very spartan life, focussing on her textile work. She utilised natural black fleece (a rarity at the time) and experimented with vegetable dyes, and she also wove tapestries. Many of her weavings were passed on to her nieces and nephews.

Photographs taken towards the end of her life focussed on her great nephews and nieces as subjects, and documented her trips to Scotland and London during her final trip there in 1953.

Joyce Waterhouse died on 13 December 1966 in South Australia (just four months prior to her eightieth birthday). Up until the end she was driving her car, spinning, and dying, weaving, and taking photographs of the family.


Art Gallery of South Australia

Waterhouse (Family), Waterhouse, Joyce, 1887-1966 and Waterhouse, Laura Emily Waterhouse family, 1859. State Library of South Australia archival collection


Exhibition - Joyce Waterhouse's work featured in Women's Work Exhibition. Location: Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria.
1921 - 1961
Active as amateur photographer. Location: South Australia and Victoria
Exhibition - Joyce Waterhouse's work featured in The Second Exhibition of Pictorial Photography. Location: Society of Arts Gallery, North Terrace, Adelaide.
Exhibition - Joyce Waterhouse's work featured in Australian Women Photographers 1840-1950. Location: George Paton Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria.
2007 - 2008
Exhibition - Joyce Waterhouse's work featured in A Century in Focus: South Australian Photography: 1840s-1940s. Location: Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Sources used to compile this entry: Photographic Exhibition Opened by Lady Mayoress, The Advertiser, 29 July 1930,; Robinson, Julie, A century in focus: South Australian photography, 1840s-1940s, Zagala, Maria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA., 2007.

Anne Maxwell (with Morfia Grondas and Lucy Van)

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