Margaret Olley: End of an Era

July 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

WHEN AUSTRALIAN ARTIST MARGARET OLLEY died last Tuesday it saddened many people, who had enjoyed her colorful still life paintings throughout the decades. Olley’s renowned  painting style spans the better part of 50 years. While other artists were restless for change and development, anxiously keeping abreast of others in foreign fields or jealously jostling for a superior toehold on the cliffs of progress, Olley held court in Sydney, with her compositions of ease in which her construction of volumes is highly inflected, with judicious accents of hue catching the shape of an object and expressing its existence with heightened presence.

Olley’s interest in painting was ignited when she attended Somerville House in Brisbane, and received art classes where her talent was encouraged. After finishing school she attended technical colleges in Brisbane and Sydney before completing her study with A-class honours in 1945. Her first solo exhibition was at the Macquarie Galleries in 1948. In 1949 she set off on an overseas adventure, traveling through France,Spain and England. When she returned, Olley worked at the Twelve Night Theatre in Brisbane designing sets, before heading off traveling through North Queensland, followed by a trip to Papua New Guinea.

Olley’s painting style was not swayed by changing fashions and movements of the art world, and instead she chose to paint her immediate world, immersing herself in everyday subjects that reflected her interest in the personal and the intimate. Margaret Olley is represented at the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of NSW, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery, and  and the Tasmanian Museum. Her work also appears at regional galleries including Lismore, Maitland, Gold Coast, and Wollongong as well as tertiary and municipal collections.

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