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BORN 1923 – 2011
Born in Lismore in 1923, Margaret Olley studied at the Brisbane Central Technical College then at East Sydney Technical College graduating in 1945 with first class honours. She went on to study and travel extensively – to France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, China, Russia and Cambodia. During the 1940’s she became a prominent figure in the Sydney art scene and joined other artists such as Donald Friend at Hill End.
Olley held her first solo exhibition in 1948 and has held at least one exhibition annually. She is known for her colourful interiors and still life paintings. She is also widely known for being the subject of the famous William Dobell portrait which won the Archibald Prize in 1948.
Olley’s close friend, the Australian entertainer Barry Humphries writes “A visit to Margaret Olley is certainly an unforgettable experience. Her house is a series of studios, filled burgeoning with furniture, textiles and objects that she incorporates into her ravishing nature mortes. In each room, and in various stages of completion, stands a painting, propped sometimes against a chair, or flung with seeming carelessness upon a sofa – there is no sign of so formal an accoutrement as an easel.
A simple table, covered with gourds and tangerines and upon which might also rest a Turkish pot, a jar of flannel flowers or a dish of desiccated raspberries, stands against a black and gilded Chinese screen. In the foreground, Miss Olley’s painting of this subject is casually appended. It is not difficult to image that she was once (in 1959) the proprietrix of an antique store.” Margaret Olley is a legend in the art world – both as an artist and a generous philanthropist. Her paintings are highly sought after by public and private collectors both in Australia and all around the world.
In 1991 Margaret Olley was awarded the Australian Office of the Order of Australia (AO) and in 2006 she was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List.
In 2007, Margaret Olley was appointed a Fellow of the National Art School. She is only the third Fellow to be appointed, joining Peter Rushforth and John Coburn.
Margaret Olley sadly passed away on 26th July 2011 in her home in Paddington, Sydney.
Over 60 solo exhibitions in Australia and abroad since 1948, including:
Moreton Galleries, Brisbane
Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
Marodian Gallery, Brisbane
Galerie Paul Morihien, Paris
Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane
Bonython Gallery, Adelaide
Australian Galleries, Melbourne
Von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
Darlinghurst Galleries, Sydney
Macquarie Galleries, Canberra
Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney
Skinner Gallery, Perth
Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
Anna Simons Gallery, Canberra
Solander Gallery, Canberra
Greenhill Galleries, Perth
Browse & Darby, London
Nevill Keating Pictures, London
Also two major retrospective exhibitions:
1990 S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1996 Art Gallery of New South Wales
PRIZES AND AWARDS
1947 Mosman Art Prize, NSW
1958 Lismore Art Prize, NSW
1962 Redcliffe Art Prize, Queensland
1962 Helena Rubenstein Portrait Prize, WA
1963 Redcliffe Art Prize, Queensland
1963 Finneys’ Centenary Art Prize, Queensland
1963 Royal National Agricultural Association Prize, Queensland
1964 Johnsonian Club Art Prize, Queensland
1965 Redcliffe Art Prize, Queensland
1965 Toowoomba Art Society Competition, Queensland
1965 Bendigo Art Prize, Victoria
1991 Appointed Officer (A.O.) Order of Australia
1991 Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Macquarie University
1997 Art Gallery of NSW, Life Governor
2000 Honorary Doctorate of Letters, University of Queensland
2000 Honorary Doctorate of Visual Arts, University of Sydney
Australian National Gallery, Canberra
Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Gallery of Victoria
Art Gallery of South Australia
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Queensland Art Gallery
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Newcastle Regional Art Gallery
Rockhampton Art Gallery
Toowoomba Art Gallery Bendigo Art Gallery
Lismore Regional Art Gallery
Maitland City Art Gallery
Wollongong City Gallery
Brisbane City Hall Art Gallery and Museum
The Centre Gallery, Gold Coast
University of NSW
University of Sydney
Canberra School of Art Gallery
Brisbane College of Advanced Education
The Queensland Teachers Union
University Art Museum, University of Queensland
Canberra College of Advanced Education
Australian National University
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Harvey Galleries was founded by the Harvey family in 1994 with an eye to establish a dynamic and inclusive contemporary art space on the North Shore of Sydney. For almost three decades we have expanded our reach to over three gallery locations and an ever expanding stable of the best artists Australia has to offer.
Harvey Galleries would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past, present and emerging.