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Owen, Gladys Mary (1889 - 1960)


1 July 1889
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
18 July 1960
Artist and Social worker


Gladys Owen, born into a distinguished Sydney legal family, is best remembered as a painter and print-maker; however, she was a founding member of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Red Cross Society in 1913, and 'inherited a fluency in public speaking and tenacity in advocacy and lobbying' (Heritage). The Sydney Morning Herald, reviewing her 1922 art exhibition, noted that Owen's 'patriotic activities during the war diminished the importance of her contributions to the art life of the State' (20 March 1922, p.5). It was for these services she was appointed OBE (Officer of The Order of the British Empire) in 1918. Owen was the founding joint honorary secretary (1914-1927) of the Society's New South Wales branch and became a vice-president in 1927. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on her husband, fellow artist John Moore, Owen's commitment to the Red Cross and advocacy in social work was life long: 'She was a director of the civil section of the Women's Australian National Service in 1940, a council-member of the State division of the Red Cross 1940-49 and of national headquarters in 1943-49, and honorary secretary of the State Red Cross Field Service in 1941-43. From 1950 she was president of the Council of Social Service of New South Wales'.

Sources used to compile this entry: Flower, Cedric, 'Moore, John Drummond Macpherson (1888-1958)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Newton, Gael, 'Owen, Gladys Mary (1889-1960), painter, print-maker, embroiderer, radio presenter and programmer, social worker, public speaker and arts administrator', in Kerr, Joan (ed.), Heritage: The National Women's Art Book, Craftsman House, Roseville East, NSW, 1995, p. 422.

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Archival resources

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • Biographical cuttings on Gladys Owen, artist; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

State Library of New South Wales

  • Wood engravings by Gladys Owen, 1920s-1950s and woodcut by Maud Sherwood, 1920s-1930s, 1920s - 1950s, PXD 765; State Library of New South Wales. Details

Helen Morgan

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