Walker, Dorothy (1929–2002), writer and critic, was born 16 January 1929 at 3 Mountjoy Square, Dublin, the daughter of Walter Cole, a stallholder at the city of Dublin fruit and vegetable market, and his wife, Moira. Following her education at the Dominican convent in Wicklow (1937–46) and then at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris for two years, she became an editorial assistant in the office of the New York Times in Paris, working on the paper's Sunday arts section for three years. She then returned to Dublin and in 1952 became personal assistant to Michael Scott (qv), the leading modernist architect in Dublin at the time. Dorothy worked with Scott until 1956, when she became manager of Signa Design Consultants, which had offices in Dublin and London. A number of artists and designers were involved, including Patrick Scott, Louis le Brocquy, Mary McGrath, and Raymond Kyne.
In 1961 Dorothy married Robin Walker (qv) who, the year before, together with Ronnie Tallon, had formed an architectural partnership with Michael Scott in what was to become an exemplary modernist practice. Scott, during Dorothy's association with him in the 1950s, when he was working on his own, had been responsible for landmark buildings; now, with the expansion of the practice, which grew steadily, a string of major buildings and campuses was designed, including UCG (latterly NUIG), and several buildings at UCD. The partnership also designed the Radio Telefís Éireann complex at Donnybrook.
In 1963 Dorothy became art critic at Radio Éireann and in 1967 of Hibernia: Fortnightly Review, a position she held for the next ten years. She was a founding member of the Rosc exhibition of 1967. This seminal event in Irish art was followed up, initially at four-year intervals and then irregularly, bringing international art to Dublin and generally invigorating the modernist painters and sculptors, whose work Dorothy staunchly espoused. At the same time she extended her art criticism to a number of international publications, among them Art in America, Art International, and Art Monthly, and was the curator of several other exhibitions, notably ‘The Irish Imagination’, covering the years 1959 to 1971 and held in association with the second Rosc exhibition of that year, on the executive committee of which she served.
During the following decade Walker was involved in many art ventures as curator of shows including ‘The Work of Oisín Kelly’ for the Arts Council in 1978, the ‘Without the Walls’ exhibition of 1980, and the Patrick Scott retrospective exhibition of 1981 at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Trinity College. She reactivated the Irish section of the International Association of Art Critics and was instrumental both in bringing its world congress to Dublin in 1980 and in organising the programme. She published a study of Louis le Brocquy in 1981 and in subsequent years organised exhibitions of his work in Australia and in Japan. When the Irish Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1991 she was made a member of the board of directors, a post she retained until 2002. She published a collection of what she called ‘casual conversations’ with Michael Scott in 1995 and Modern art in Ireland two years later.
Walker died on 8 December 2002 (her husband had predeceased her), survived by her children: Simon (b. 1962), Michan (b. 1963), Sarah (b. 1965), who became a painter, Corban (b. 1967), who became a sculptor, and Ciannait (b. 1970).