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Thea Proctor was just sixteen when her entry at the Bowral Art Competition caught the eye of the judge, Arthur Streeton. It was the first of many associations with art world . The next year saw her at the Julian Ashton Art School in the illustrious company of Elioth Gruner, Sydney Long and George Lambert, for whom she often posed and her great friend until his death in 1930.
Lambert’s paintings and sketches of Proctor emphasise the elegance of her dress. A keen interest in fashion was just one of her fascination with design, and she saw herself as an early style guru on a quest to rid Australian art of “its lack of imagination and inventive design”. Skilled in watercolours and drawings, Proctor did not herself to paper, canvases or to her popular magazine illustrations; she designed theatre sets and a restaurant interior and wrote on a range of subjects from flower arranging to the colours of cars. It made for a busy and life but, as she said, she was not the sort of person “who could sit at home and knit socks.”