Posted by: jkirkby8712 | July 27, 2011

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 – a ‘national treasure’ passes on.

The death occurred yesterday of Australian artist, Margaret Olley. She was found deceased in her home, in Paddington, Sydney, aged 88 years.  Unless she had moved recently, her home was a converted ‘Old Hat Factory’ She was a painter of life and poetry. As noted in today’s press, Olley staged more than 90 solo exhibitions and amassed a vast collection of prestigious awards and honorary doctorates.. She was a supporter of other artists, and one of Australia’s most generous benefactors to public galleries, and was the ‘subject’ herself, of two winning Archibald Prize portraits – William Dobell [1948], and Ben Quilty, this year.

A couple of years ago, whilst I was up in Sydney, I purchased a book called ‘The Artist’s Lunch’, which featured a number of Australian artists discussing the influence of food  on their work. Margaret Olley was one of those artists She loved cooking, and associated with that, entertaining, but it had to be on her terms. Being interviewed for that book, she said “As a young woman, I quickly discovered that it was easier to entertain people two nights running while the table was set up and the kitchen was on the go. I would often entertain twenty of thirty people over the course of two days. Then I could shut down the kitchen and go on with my painting”.  In another section, she said: “There has been many an evening when people have refused to leave. After I’ve finished making noise in the kitchen, I slowly have to turn out all of the lights, one at a time, until finally somebody says ‘Are you trying to give us a hint, Oll?’  Mind you, when everybody goes, I always like one person to stay on for a while and chat for a bit. Like a Spanish guitarist I once saw in concert, who gave encore after encore as a way of winding down”.

That was Margaret Olley – described as a ‘gifted, spirited, generous woman –  who, as an indication of what she liked to paint, once said ‘There’s nothing like painting what you’re familiar with. You can do all sorts of things with the ordinary”.


Margaret Olley

Artist Margaret Olley, with the winner of the 2011 Archibald Prize Ben Quilty and his children Olivia (2), Joe (5). Picture: Alan Pryke Source: The Daily Telegraph



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