Susan Duke was born at Bungaree, east of Ballarat, Victoria, in 1898, the eldest child of John Hallyer Duke and Sarah Ann Suckling.

In 1922 Duke was appointed sewing mistress at the Bullarook State School, teaching there and at nearby Pootilla State School. During her time teaching, Duke designed a crochet pattern for a corner piece, featuring a bush hut with gumnut decorations. This was entered into a needlework competition run by the Melbourne-based Weekly Times and reproduced in their 20 October 1923 edition. 'I daresay quite a number of women will design their own laces in future,’ she wrote, 'I know that I shall try to do so’. The Bush hut triangle design was then used in the The Weekly Times Crochet Book (1924).

In 1926 Duke married farmer William Douglas Monteith and lived on a property outside Corangamite until moving to Ballarat in the 1950s.

In the late 1970s Duke’s Bush hut triangle was used in the posters and catalogue for the D’Oyley Show which was shown at Watters Gallery, East Sydney, in 1979 and then toured. Coincidentally Duke’s great-niece, Robin Eagle, later worked with the D’Oyley Show’s poster designer, Frances Phoenix, in the Adelaide Women’s Liberation Movement, while her nephew, the performance poet Jas H. Duke, also contributed to the design of feminist posters for the Industrial women project at about this time.

Susan Monteith died in Ballarat East in 1989.


Eric Riddler
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