Educated at the exclusive Teschemakers Catholic boarding school, Jacqueline Fahey began studying art at sixteen, at the Canterbury College School of Art, Christchurch, New Zealand, where she was taught by illustrator Russell Clark. She is now the only survivor of a group of renowned Canterbury women artists that included Rita Angus and Evelyn Page.
She started out as a painter in the late 1950s but had three children in quick succession and soon found that a young family and the demands of her husband's career, put a temporary halt to her painting career. However, by the late 1960s she was able to take up painting again and has set a vigorous pace since.
Jacqueline Fahey was one of the first New Zealand women artists to paint from a woman's perspective. Through her choices of subject, materials and methods she expresses feminist concerns. Highly unconventional in the late 1950s, for example, she was already dramatically revealing the crippling isolation of women in the suburban family home. In later years, she has moved on to urban subject s and into the overtly political.
In 1964, with Rita Angus, she organised a painting exhibition at the Centre Gallery, Wellington, which showcased female and male artists in equal numbers and was almost certainly the first deliberately "gender balanced" show in New Zealand.
Jacqueline has exhibited in numerous solo and group shows throughout her career. In 1985 she was selected to represent New Zealand at the Sydney Perspecta.
Jacqueline Fahey is also a writer publishing the novel Cutting Loose (David Ling, 1998) about the 1987 coup in Fiji, best-selling memoir Something for the Birds (AUP, 2006) and Before I Forget (AUP, 2012). She has also completed she has just finished her second novel The Fenians Assassin.
Jacqueline was named as an Officer of the Order (ONZM) for services to art in the New Year Honours List 1997. In 2013 Jacqueline was honoured with an Arts Foundation Icon Award. The Icon Awards are limited to a living circle of 20 stellar New Zealand artists and are the Arts Foundation's highest honour.