JEAN SPENCER – Tapestry & Embroidery Artist


Adelaide 15 October 1921 – Canberra 18 September 2018


Jean’s clever fingers were creative for all her long life. Liking to be busy, Jean enjoyed sewing which included making clothes and many costumes for when her daughter was performing dance, and she especially loved wool work like knitting.  Throughout the years she made many jumpers, cardigans, scarves and other garments for her family.  In her 80s and 90s she was still working on knitting projects, some for charities.  These included making coat-hangers for presents and fundraising, knitting and sewing pouches for the RSPCA, knitting scarf lengths for wrapping around poles at the NGA (2009), and knitting 20 bookmarks for Dickson Library for International Year of Reading (2012).  She was particularly fond of knitting squares which she could do whilst watching TV and these she donated to Alzheimer’s Australia and to St Paul’s Ginninderra Anglican Church to be made into blankets for Africa, Pacific Islands and local hospitals.  She knitted her last square when she was in Calvary Hospital shortly before she died in 2018.

Her interest in tapestries and embroideries began in the 1970s and continued for the rest of her life.  She completed, and had beautifully framed, over 20 large tapestries, many of which adorned the walls of their Adelaide home.  Others were lovingly created for friends and family. Her gift to her Church in West Croydon in 1987 of a large framed tapestry of The Last Supper remained one of her most satisfying accomplishments.  When she and her husband, Clifford, moved to Canberra in 2014, the tapestries came too, and helped make their Independent Unit at Goodwin Ainslie feel like home.  Some of Jean’s tapestries are on display here.

Written by her daughter, Charmaine Hallam, who has been the recipient of many of Jean’s handiworks and who continues to knit and donate squares in Jean’s memory

Jean’s photo by Geoff Comfort