Thursday, July 28, 2011


Vale Margaret Olley, Australian artist who died on 26 July 2011 this week at the age of 88

(Cyclamens and Apples 2005)

(daisies and pears 1978)

She recently sat for a portrait by Ben Quilty, which won this year's Archibald Prize, here it is.

Olley was a figurative painter of great skill, who produced wonderful still lifes, which seem so old fashioned these days and yet full of life and light and substance.  What, really, could be more wonderful than a perfect bunch of flowers and a bowl of fruit sitting in the sunshine. 

(Poppies 2004)

(spare bedroom, 1970, which is at the Lismore Art Gallery)

She always struck me as a very determined person, not at all a flighty scatty artist.   And I love her food \ flower combinations.  Others include cornflowers and pomegranates, cliveas and mandarins and ranunculas and watermelon).

(Quinces and Marigolds 2005)

The older you get of course the more you can get away with saying what you want.  I love this quote of Olley's:

'I’ve never liked housework. I get by doing little chores when I feel like them, in between paintings. Who wants to chase dust all their life? You can spend your whole lifetime cleaning the house. I like watching the patina grow. If the house looks dirty, buy another bunch of flowers, is my advice.'

(from the biography by Meg Stewart you can read a review of this here).  

She certainly took her own advice because here she is in her studio:

The Sydney Morning Herald's obit is here. 

One of my ambitions in life, if you could call it that, is to reach such a ripe age, say what I want, paint what I want, and clean when I want (or not).

(all still life images from Eva Breuer)


brismod said...

Clearly, she was a wise woman who didn't like housework! I love that spare bedroom image. xx

Jane said...

Vale indeed, Jane. What an indomitable woman and life-force. J x

Maxabella said...

A brilliant artist and whole, centered person - she makes my heart catch in so many ways. And will continue to do every time I see her work. x

Mise said...

It's true: you can spend your whole lifetime cleaning the house and have nothing for it except, a week later, an unclean house. Her work is lovely, and I always fall for interiors paintings so am especially drawn to the spare bedroom - she has really captured its spareness - there's something about the stillness that makes you aware at once that it is little used.

Sarah B said...

What a great artist. I like her thoughts on housework, in fact she sounds a little like me. What a great shot of her studio - I love the colour and chaos!

count it all joy said...

I want to give her a standing ovation for those quotes. I've always admired her painting, but never fully appreciated her wit. Lovely tribute to her Jane. Meredy xo

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Hi Jane,
My first thought was that her paintings were a little old-fashioned but, they would be, seeing that she was 88 !! She was a very accomplished artist and, I absolutely love her attitude to housework !! I also love the photo of her in her studio with art paraphanalia chaos all around her !!
Hope that you are feeling better and better everyday. I do think of you often.
Lots of love. XXXX

posie blogs Jennie McClelland said...

Yay, she was amazing, the way she kept reinvesting her money into galleries & other Australian artists, she was so generous of heart. I think two lucky artists won the Archibald Prize painting her, in the 40s or something?? She was just so frank, honest & adorable, brilliant woman, sorely missed. Love Posie

Daisy said...

I think her studio looks amazing and her view on life spot on.
Thanks for sharing xxx

63shells said...

Margaret Olley was one of Australias most brilliant artists, gorgoeus inside and out and always true to herself.

Susanne said...

I like this woman's outlook on housework. What a wonderful artist and I'm sure she was one interesting woman. Thank you for sharing this with us. It has been awhile since I checked in on your blog. I hope you are doing well today :)

Anonymous said...

hello lovely blog person!

we just saw a comment you made on my bloomsbury life (adore her stuff) about bletchley park - a KINDRED spirit!

over here at teamgloria we would definitely have been sitting on the long tables decoding madly with a trim a-line skirt (army issue navy), great cuban heel shoes and a ravishing smile.

we are going to visit your blog again. looks delicious.

BigLittleWolf said...

Visiting from TeamGloria. What a lovely site you have.

And I particularly like the portrait you've shown. The strokes energize the face, but don't diminish the subtlety.

Strength and grace. Good combination.

Blue fruit said...

OMG - what a studio in that last image! Mess everywhere - it looks like mine when I am up against tender deadlines!

She has always been one of my favourite Australian artists, because her artworks have such an incredible vibrancy to them. You have picked some wonderful examples which illustrate that exactly.

Young at Heart said...

what lovely pictures...I think I've mastered the clean when I want!!


Why not start now, Jane? :-)


24 Corners said...

What a fabulous character she was and such a great talent...I had to keep going back to The Poppies and Spare Bedroom. Her style seemed to reflect her home/studio, they looked so similar...colorful, busy but in a good way and full of life...I wonder if she painted any 'dust' into here pictures, she seems the type that just might do that and wink about it.
xo J~

(the painting of her is fantastic life-like in a surrealist kind of way)

Jeanne Henriques said...

I love her work Jane and did not realise she had passed away. How lovely would it have been to sit with her in her studio and just watch.

Love her colours.

Jeanne xx

Anonymous said...

what a fabulous broad! (said in the most admiring of tones)

thank you for sharing her.

#offtobuyanotherbunchofflowers ;-)

your quote is too, too, delicious too.

"One of my ambitions in life, if you could call it that, is to reach such a ripe age, say what I want, paint what I want, and clean when I want (or not)."

thank you again for visiting us - we've got three weeks to go until surgery. ugh. just spent a fortune at Jo Malone - kinda helped, temporarily ;-) at least we'll smell nice while the scar on our neck heals....


take it easy down under the pear tree.


Anonymous said...

I'm linking this webpage from my private weblog . this has all the usefull info necessary.

My web site ... i'm having trouble getting pregnant

Anonymous said...

Review my web blog; web page

Anonymous said...

my web page: homepage

Anonymous said...

my weblog :: site

Anonymous said...

My web page: homepage

Related Posts with Thumbnails