Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I'd always known about Margaret Olley but it was when watching an ABC documentary on this intriguing lady several years ago that my interest peaked, not only in admiration of her intimate interiors and colourful still life oils but astonishment at the revelations of her extraordinary life. She was interviewed in her lounge room, which looked like an antique shop, treasures covering every surface, barely room to move. She is one of the country's most generous benefactors to public art galleries.

Margaret is a 'national living treasure'; on June 12 2006 in the Queen's Birthday honours list, she was awarded Australia's highest civilian honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for her commitment to art and philanthropy. On July 13 2006 she donated more works to the Art Gallery of New South Wales; her donations to date include more than 130 works worth $7 million (Wikipedia).

Marigolds & Fruit

The Margaret Olley Life's Journey exhibition is at the University of Queensland Art Museum until April 19, then it travels to the SH Ervin Gallery in Sydney from May 1 until June 21 and, finally, it's at the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery from August 15 until October 25.

Poppies & Checked Cloth

Listen here to listen to a podcast of a recent radio interview with Margaret on ABC Radio National's 'Artworks' program.

Meg Stewart, daughter of Sydney painter Margaret Coen, has published a biography of Margaret Olley entitled 'Far from a Still Life' - link.


willow said...

Thanks for the introduction to this wonderful lady!

Coccinella said...

It's great that she's seeing this recognition, rather than posthumously. I've just listened again to the interview and whizzed through the ironing!