Section Menu


The College is sad to share news of the death of respected artist and ex-student Janet Venn-Brown (1941) at 96. 

Janet began at PLC Sydney at 13 when Miss Hamilton was the Principal, and approximately 260 students were attending the College. The artist Adelaide Perry was the art teacher during those years, and she taught Janet. During her last year, the RAAF requisitioned the College, and the school moved to Strathfield.

After completing the Leaving Certificate in 1941, Janet began working in publishing. She studied art under Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo at the ADR Art School in Pitt Street. In 1961 she decided to leave Australia and see how she would fare as an artist. For nearly 50 years, she lived outside of Australia, mainly in Rome but with extensive painting trips to the Arabian Gulf countries.

In Rome, Janet met Wael Zuaiter, a Palestinian translator. Wael was interested in books and music. While he was committed to the idea of a Palestinian nation, he also believed that peaceful co-existence with the Israelis was possible. The pair became engaged, but Wael was tragically assassinated by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, in 1972. At his death, he translated A Thousand and One Nights and worked for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Rome. Grief-stricken for many years, one of Janet's proudest achievements was the publication of For a Palestinian: a Memorial to Wael Zuaiter in 1984.

Her painting career continued, specialising in architectural exteriors and, more recently, domestic interiors. In 2013 the Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst mounted her 89th birthday retrospective exhibition. Award-winning journalist Peter Manning wrote her biography in 2017, and the launch for Janet Venn-Brown, A Life in Art, was held in The Croydon, with Janet attending. A selection of Janet's papers, diaries, letters and paintings are held in The National Library of Australia. 

In 2017, ex-student Alison Scott (Dyster, 1958) donated a painting by Janet to the College.  View from a flat in Via dei Giubanari shows the cupola of the church Trinità dei Pellegrini
in Rome. It was purchased in 1980 when Janet and Alison were both living in Rome and became friends. The painting is now part of the PLC Sydney Art Collection and hangs outside Dr Burgis' office in Shubra Hall. 

Her obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald is available here. 

Vale Janet.

Ex-student, Alison Scott (Dyster, 1958) presented the Janet Venn-Brown painting to Dr Burgis in 2017.