Pamela Lofts, 1949 – 2012

For every bird there is this last migration;

Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;

With a warm passage to the summer station

Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

– A. D. Hope


Pamela Lofts, well-loved Alice Springs artist and children’s book illustrator, died yesterday. She leaves behind important legacies in both fields.

The desert has been at the heart of her life and art since 1980. She loved its beauty as much as anyone, as evidenced in her work, but more importantly,  she saw the desert as “a storied place” and its stories were the matter she worked with. They told not only of what can be found there, but also what cannot; they were full of the haunting presence of lost possibilities  – the lost way of life of the original inhabitants, the lost opportunity of another kind of settlement too.

This kind of awareness may have equipped her all too well to address the matter of her own dying in an exhibition held at Watch This Space in Alice Springs in July last year. In a series of drawings of migratory birds who have breathed their last, fully expended at the end of life’s long journey, she expressed the sorrow of death at the same time as a profound acceptance of it as a state intimately connected to life, one shared by all living things. The series was remarkable for its meditative beauty (achieved in a sublime display of the artist’s drawing skill) as well as for its unflinching courage.

Much more is to be said about Pamela Lofts’ contribution to art, to children’s literature, to the community – and we will bring a more complete obituary to our readers. Today the Alice Springs News salutes a fine talent and an exemplary spirit who has left this life too soon.


Recent articles about the work of Pamela Lofts:


Paintings and poems take you by the hand

Antics and elegy

Last migrations

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14 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Dr Ongo
    Posted April 3, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Between the red soil and ranges and the blue skies of central Australia is where Pam lived and worked for many years.An inspiration.

    Distant pools reflect the sun
    Earth and Sky, and the colours run
    Butterfly backstroke horizon deep
    You’re already in now try to keep
    The silence loud in the salt

    Kangaroo like a motorcar
    Someone left in a hurry but never got far
    Doors ripped off on the side of the road
    Headlight broken bone exposed
    And scattered and torn with my heart bursting out of my sleeve

    Silhouetted on the side of a mountain
    Or dancing semaphore out in the dunes
    You cut a good line between the red and the blue

    Drawn in sand and written in stone
    Flesh and blood, feather and bone
    When at last you came to sleep
    Body tossed in blue so deep
    And delicately placed upon the papery shore

    A red stilleto pierces the salt
    A flock of budgies mid-flight halt
    Left washing hanging in the breeze
    Something cooking in the deep freeze
    I know you’re dancing with the Coolibah trees

    Sillhouted on the side of a mountain
    Or dancing semaphore out in the dunes
    You cut a good line between the red and the blue

    It’s a beautiful day
    Lovely clouds today
    So blue today
    I could cry today.

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  2. Posted April 3, 2019 at 4:56 am

    I am a teacher in the United States now and lived in Alice Springs for nearly 18 years.
    My students are reading and enjoying the work of Mem Fox and illustrations by Pamela Loft.
    Pamela Loft may be gone from this planet but her beautiful illustrations live on and are enjoyed by children around the world.

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  3. Janine Dawson
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    So shocked to hear of Pam’s passing. She will always be remembered as the vibrant, inspirational and talented person she was. She has touched so many lives and done so many extraordinary things. It was a pleasure to know you, Pam.

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  4. Posted August 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Saddened to hear of Pam’s death and remembering all the times our lives crossed and in particular when she came to Canberra for the National Sculpture Exhibition in 1995 with her “Camp Dogs”. Vale Pam.

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  5. Dianna Grigg
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Sadly missed. Pam Lofts has left gentle lasting footprints during her life by sharing remarkable stories through her inspired creative images. These she has gifted to hundreds of thousands of children and families across Australia and the globe. She has touched our hearts and imagination and will continue to inspire creative minds as they turn the pages of her work for years to come.Thank you for touching my life and the lives of my children and grandchildren and for the exemplary contribution to children’s literature in Australia.
    Dianna Grigg – Teacher

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  6. Mem Fox
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Pam Lofts was the brilliant illustrator of three of my books: Sail Away; Koala Lou; and Hunwick’s Egg. I found her to be a truly fascinating person who lived outside the groove, thought divergently, and was always true to herself. I liked her enormously even though we met probably less than ten times. I adored her illustrations, especially the authenticity she brought to her paintings of Australian fauna and flora. They were exquisite. She was able to visually capture the emotions of my characters in a way that amazed me. I have thought about her a lot in the last week or so. Her passing was shock and a great sadness. I just wanted to say, too late, how very much I appreciated everything she did for me.

    Mem Fox

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  7. Lois Holmes
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Pam, may all your Bushland creatures give you the strength and courage that you have displayed over the last two years, for the journey up there under the Red Gums by the Billabong in Heaven. Remembering our precious times together with your beloved sister Janice (Jay my best friend)and your parents walking the tracks in the Shoalhaven and Blue Mntns.

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  8. Matt Campbell
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Yes very sad news, but now she is freed of the limitations that had come to weigh her down. May you fly without restraint now Pam.

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  9. Lisa Stefanoff
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Pam loved Alice Springs. A profound inspiration for what is possible in this special place in the world. An immense loss, so very sad.

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  10. Barbara Curr
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Pam was a wonderful swimming mate. I miss her and the thought I’ll not see more of her wonderful art.

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  11. Ruth Rynehart
    Posted July 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Fly, beautiful childhood buddy, soar with grace as you always have throughout all of life’s challenges. May I echo Bob’s acknowledgement of the wonderful people around Pam who helped her to gift to us all her most recent fabulous exhibitions.

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  12. Bob Durnan
    Posted July 7, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Pam was a source of strength and joy in central Australia, with her sense of wonder, commitment to life, beauty and insightful thinking. She is already really missed.
    Thanks should go also to her friends who helped in the staging of her final series of extraordinarily inspiring exhibitions over the last couple of years.

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  13. Julie Taylor
    Posted July 7, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Can’t stop thinking about Pam and the many ways she has been an important influence in my life. A great loss to our community.

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  14. Kim Donovan
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    A wonderful lady who will be missed by many.

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