Her bold and colourful designs have adorned everything from a pregnant Princess Diana to the walls of the antique centre at Blackheath.
Now Jenny Kee’s career creating beautiful fashion and art, frequently featuring Australian native fauna, has been recognised in the Order of Australia awards.
The Blackheath resident has been made an officer (AO) for her fashion work and also for her long-time support for the environment.
“I am honoured – I really am – for it’s recognising your services to the country that you love,” she said.
Ms Kee’s “distinguished service to the Australian fashion industry” includes collections for Woolmark, commissioned pieces for Parliament House, the Australian Bicentenary, and the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
She has also added to the creative output in Blackheath, with her distinctive art designs adorning the wall of the Victory Theatre antique centre, the nearby toilet block in the Ivanhoe carpark and the hall at Blackheath Public School.
The murals are “part of my community ethos”, she said.
“”When I was asked to do the mural [at the Victory Theatre], I wanted to do it for children more than anything.
“I hear mothers with their children passing by saying, ‘look, there’s a kookaburra’ and that makes me so happy.”
Ms Kee has also been a supporter of the environment, backing the Wilderness Society and Australian Conservation Fund since the 1980s and campaigning to save NSW’s south-east forests from logging.
“That [south-east forests] was a very big campaign that I worked on,” she said. “I actually got arrested and for that I am very proud.”
While she retains intense interest in the environment, she says of herself, “I’m a quiet activist now”.
Ms Kee was a member of the advisory panel for Creative Nation: Commonwealth Cultural Policy Report (1993-94) and a foundation member of the Australian Republican Movement in 1991.
She has also been inducted into the Design Institute of Australia Hall of Fame and received the Australian Fashion Laureate Award in 2013.
This story first appeared in the Blue Mountains Gazette.