Margaret Olley

Last Days

March 16, 2012
Laith McGregor, Drunken Boat

“Hurry, hurry, last days!” Margaret Olley used to say, when she felt the pinch of old age. Her final show, completed in fairy tale fashion on the day she died, reveals an artist who knew she did not have much time left. The paintings in the exhibition, The Inner Sanctum, hosted by Philip Bacon in … More


The last days of the Caponian empire

August 9, 2011
Locust Jones, News of the world

What a deathly year it has been for artists! In quick succession we have lost Cy Twombly, Lucian Freud, and now John Hoyland. The latter was especially disturbing, as I had just contributed a catalogue essay to his exhibition with Charles Nodrum in Melbourne. Logically there is nothing surprising about someone dying at a ripe … More


Goodbye Margaret, hello Brisbane

July 31, 2011
Margaret Olley sketching in Newcastle, 1965

There are a number of phone calls that I dread, although they are inevitable. One arrived last Wednesday when the SMH Arts Editor, Clare Morgan, rang to tell me that Margaret Olley had died. Margaret has been a fixture on the Australian art scene since the 1940s, and it would be difficult to think of … More


Margaret Olley 1923 – 2011: An Appreciation

July 25, 2011
margaret-olley-archibald

“Hurry, hurry, last days!” Margaret Olley would cry when someone tried to involve her in another hopeful project. It usually involved Margaret making a donation of some sort, or simply gracing an event with her presence. At the end she found it easier to write a cheque rather than face a room full of people … More


The 2011 Archibald Prize

April 16, 2011
Ben Quilty, Margaret Olley, oil on linen, 170 x 150cm

It’s appropriate the Archibald Prize should coincide with Easter, because the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW have repented of their sins of last year and asked to be forgiven. Not in so many words, of course. They have simply chosen a better, more credible exhibition and tried to put the horrors of 2010 … More


Margaret Olley: Life’s Journey

May 23, 2009
Margaret Olley, Brisbane River, 1956, ink and watercolour on paper, 43.5 x 55.0 cm

At this stage of her brilliant career there is nothing that any critical review can add to or subtract from the reputation of Margaret Hannah Olley. There have been two retrospectives, two Orders of Australia, four honorary doctorates. She has been painted by Australia’s best-known artists, and hailed for her constant public benefactions. As long … More


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