Born: 1929 Melbourne
- Water Colour
When I 'phoned to arrange an interview with Kath, she made it quite clear she was not interested in "Women Only Shows". She began to elaborate but then said "never mind, I can tell you all that at the interview." On the 24th of April, I approached Kath Ballard's home with just a little apprehension. I set about explaining the project and was pleasantly surprised by her nods and gestures and the acceptiveness of it. What I did learn from that interview was that Kath Ballard is a forthright, no-nonsense lady which belies her very sensitive and atmospheric watercolours.
Kathlyn, the youngest of three children and the only girl, was born in Brighton. Her father was James Henry Moore, a Judge and the first Chairman of the County Court. Her mother, Elsie Rebecca Simpson, came from the Wimmera. In 1921, she had attended the Ballarat School of Mines and studied art under Harold Herbert, painting in both oils and watercolours. Harold Herbert remained a life-long family friend.
An influential memory that has always remained with Kath, was a visit with her mother to the Herbert home to buy a watercolour. Harold was in army uniform when they arrived. Kath found him to be the kindest person who gave her cherries during the visit. The walls were filled with paintings, which left a lasting impression. When they were leaving, Harold picked a spring of rosemary near the front door and presented it to Kath. She was thoroughly impressed.
Kath began her schooling at St. Catherine's in Toorak and when she was nine, continued on to Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School. Elsie had discontinued painting upon her marriage
to Judge Moore but remained a patron of the arts, frequenting exhibitions at the Sedon and Kozminsky Galleries and the Athenaeum Club. As far back as Kath can remember, she had always wanted to be an artist, but was discouraged by her father and later, in her secondary years, by her Headmistress, Miss Dorothy Ross. Kath was an outstanding student and a University career was encouraged all round, but Kath's tenacity won the day, ultimately completing a four year Arts course at Swinburne Technical College (1946-1949). Kath chose to go to Swinburne, as she considered the National Gallery School, which concentrated on teaching oils, not suitable for her needs. The course at Swinburne was much wider ranging. She became a member of the first Student Representative Council formed at the College.
The war had just ended and Swinburne had a rehabilitation program for mature students which was attended by a number of returned soldiers. Kath met artists such as Ray Crook and Norma Redpath and acknowledges the influence and benefit of working beside these artists and explained it as a "unique period" for her.
In 1950, Kath obtained work at Paton Advertising as a graphic artist and found herself working alongside Eric Thake. In 1955 she moved to Alexander Moulton Advertising, and ultimately became a Director of that Company. Kath found the fifties and sixties an exciting time. "We had the freedom to be able to express ourselves."
Kath met Stan Ballard whilst working at Paton Advertising and they married in 1956. They have a son, Ralph and daughter, Vicki.
Kath's first exhibition took place in 1962 at the Hans Knorr Gallery in Emerald, Victoria. Since then, she has had forty-eight exhibitions, more than twenty solo shows and eleven co-jointly with her husband, Stan. Over the years, Kath has been very involved in the Arts. From 1969 to 1977, she taught watercolour classes and introduced the Watercolour Course at the Prahran College of Advanced Education. She is a member of the Victorian Artists' Society (Council Member from 1979-81), Australian Guild of Realist Artists (Vice President 1976-80), Old Watercolour Society's Club [Aust. Branch] (Committee member 1978-80; President 1986-88), Malvern Arts Society and Ripponlea Art Gallery.
From 1981 to this present day, she is an arts adviser to the City of Caulfield and for the Victorian Ministry for the Arts. She was a Founding Member of the Montag Watercolour Group of which she is now the Patron.
In 1984, Kath was the tutor in a film made by Chisholm Institute of Technology as a teaching tool for watercolour students. She judges frequently at art shows and awards.
Kathlyn Ballard is represented at the Regional Galleries of Castlemaine and Sale, the Rockhampton Art Gallery, the City of Waverley, and the permanent collection of the Victorian Artists' Society. She is also widely represented in company and private collections in Australia and overseas.
The Ballards went to the U.K. in 1990, which was for Kath a time of discovery and intense painting pleasure. "I have been led into a world which I believe has extended and developed my painting." She had been in England in the mid-1950s but had not painted then. Her U.K. paintings were exhibited at Greythorn Galleries in October of 1991 and they stated, "Her ability to capture the changing mood from each country is evident in these paintings which is why she is one of Australia's finest Realist Watercolourists."
Source: Interview K. Ballard. April 24th 1992
Secondary sources: Kensington Gallery
Grey thorn Galleries.