Shadowing Vida Lahey

Bats, Books and Biographical Method


  • Sue Lovell Griffith University



Narrative theory, Vida Lahey, biographical method


In bumper-to-bumper traffic along the Pacific Motorway at dusk, I edge south past the Logan Road exit towards the Gold Coast. Vehicles moving easily north have already put their headlights on. Flying foxes are massing against the darkening sky. These native megabats will find their way to food using their sharp eyes and sense of smell. As I watch, I am reminded of the microbats of another hemisphere. Those blind bats had prompted Thomas Nagel’s famous paper, ‘What is it like to be a bat?’

Author Biography

Sue Lovell, Griffith University

Sue Lovell teaches ethics, Australian literature and academic writing in the School of Humanities, Griffith University. She has published within Australia and internationally on the Australian visual artist Vida Lahey, exploring the artist’s life, work and the ways in which biographical narratives work with the past and subjectivity. She is becoming increasingly interested in the embodied and cognitive aspects of engagement with narrative more broadly.


‘Appointment of Miss Vida Lahey as official war artist’ 1942. Extract from the Minutes of Art Committee held in Sydney, 12 January. Canberra: AWM 93, File No. 50/4/2/88, Australian War Memorial.

Caracciolo Marco 2013. ‘Blind reading: Towards an enactivist theory of the reader’s imagination’, in Lars Bernaerts, Dirk de Geest, Luc Herman and Bart Vervaeck (eds), Stories and minds: Cognitive approaches to literary narrative. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 81–105.

Cooke Glenn R. 1995. ‘Art and nature: Flower painting as a vehicle for modernism in the work of Vida Lahey’, Queensland Review 2(1), 42–52.

Collingwood R. G. 1946. The idea of history. Revised edition. Ed. Jan van der Dussen. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Gibbs Raymond W. Jr 2006. Embodiment and cognitive science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Halton Eugene, n.d. ‘A brief biography of Lewis Mumford (1895–1990)’. Accessed 28 September 2013,

Lahey Shirley 2003. The Laheys: Pioneer settlers and sawmillers. Brisbane: self published.

Lahey Shirley 2008. Conversation with Sue Lovell. 2 February, Taringa. Notes with author.

Lahey Vida 1933. ‘Letters to the editor’. Brisbane Courier, 9 June 1933, 21.

Lahey Vida 194? [sic] Vida Lahey, Art for all. Brisbane: Queensland National Art Gallery for the Combined Art Committee of Queensland.

Lovell Sue 2006. ‘“Dew to the soul”: One Australian artist’s response to war’, Journal of Australian Studies 30: 88, 13–25.

Lovell Sue 2010, ‘Vida Lahey’s progressive activism for children’s art education’, Australian Historical Studies 41(3), 269–85.

MacAulay Bettina 1989a. Songs of colour: The art of Vida Lahey. Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery.

MacAulay Bettina 1989b. Supplement to songs of colour: The art of Vida Lahey, works located to 1989. Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery.

McKay Judith 1981. ‘Daphne Mayo, sculptor’. Masters thesis, University of Sydney.

Marx Leo n.d. ‘Prophet of organicism’. Working Paper No. 2. Boston: MIT.

Mayo Archive. ‘Letter from Vida Lahey to Daphne Mayo, 17th October’, Mayo Archive, UQFL119 Box 27 Folder A: Correspondence Inward Undated, Fryer Library, Queensland University.

Mayo Archive. ‘Tamborine Mt Friday’, Mayo Archive UQFL119 Box 28, Folder: Incoming Undated, Fryer Library, University of Queensland.

Mayo Archive. ‘St Lucia Rd, St Lucia, March 9th 1953’, Mayo Archive, UQFL119 Box 28, Folder: Correspondence Inwards 1950s, Fryer Library, University of Queensland.

Mayo Archive. ‘St Lucia Rd, St Lucia Tues Night’, Mayo Archive, UQFL119 Box 27, Folder A: Correspondence Inwards Undated, Fryer Library, University of Queensland.

Nagel Thomas 1974, ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ The Philosophical Review 83(4): 435–50.

Queensland Art Fund 1939. ‘Art Library records: List of donations and books on loan, March 31st 1939’, Box 5, Folder: Queensland Art Reference Library. Fryer Library, University of Queensland.

Somerville Margaret 2004. Wildflowering: The life and places of Kathleen McArthur. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.

‘Women artists’ 1935. ‘Women’s world’, Courier-Mail, 23 September 1935, 18.



How to Cite

Lovell, S. (2014). Shadowing Vida Lahey: Bats, Books and Biographical Method. Queensland Review, 21(1), 72–83.