Dr Sue Walker

Book manuscript: WA Somerset Shum – Editor, Journalist, Practical Man – an unknown figure whose impact on people from all walks of life contributed to the making of Melbourne’s culture.

Sue's honorary fellowship project looked at the unknown story of WA Somerset Shum (Sue's grandfather), who was founding editor of Australian Home Beautiful through the years 1926 to 1946.

Shum's editorial policy of publishing and promoting the work of Australian practitioners in the arts, crafts, garden design, building design, construction and allied fields in an easily accessible way is little known today but made a big impact on the homes, gardens and lives of Melburnians at the time, and contributed significantly to the making of our culture. For example, the Modernist movement, which emerged during this period and became very influential, was encouraged and shaped by the magazine, yet this has received little acknowledgement to date. Shum's marriage to Edith Moore, sister of William Moore the journalist and art writer, is also explored, and their family life enlivens his story.

Exploration of Shum's hands-on practical involvement in his own garden, house and poultry pen brings a sense of reality to his editorial role. His friendship with artists and literary figures, will also be discussed, along with his membership of clubs and societies, and his other roles as broadcaster for 3DB, editor of books and periodicals published by the Herald, and his earlier years as editor of New Idea.

Dr Sue Walker is a graduate of Melbourne University with a Doctor of Letters in Fine Art (by examination), and has edited and published several catalogues and books, including the publication for which she received her doctorate, Artists' tapestries from Australia 1976–2005. As founding Director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop (now Australian) for 28 years, Sue initiated more than 300 tapestry projects for public spaces and played a key role in bringing the art of tapestry into the mainstream of Australia’s cultural life. This involved curating touring exhibitions, presenting lectures at conferences and holding Study Days in different parts of the world.

In addition to researching and writing, Sue maintains an active role in the arts as a member of the Public Art Panel and Artists Open Studio Committee in Hepburn Shire and a member of the Board of Chamber Music Australia.