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Margaret Olley - Barry Pearce

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Margaret Olley was an icon familiar to most Australians. She was outspoken, infectious with her energy, extraordinary in her benefactions, but primarily a painter of great talent and prodigious determination. She focused particularly on still life and interiors. Olley's painterly voice was honed and shaped by a great passion for her heroes of European art: Vermeer, Chardin, Bonnard, Vuillard and Morandi. Not that she neglected landscape altogether, as shown by her early depictions of Brisbane and New South Wales, later Newcastle and Sydney Harbour.

This book takes us on an incredible journey from her formative years in Queensland to her final period of work in Sydney, until the very end of her life, as she completed a suite of paintings for her last exhibition. Barry Pearce has been a friend of Olley for nearly thirty years, and organized her retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1996. His essay and conversations with the artist recorded here, along with contributions from Edmund Capon and Philip Bacon enhance the pleasure of the journey.

About the Author

Margaret Hannah Olley AC (24 June 1923 26 July 2011) was an Australian painter.

She was the subject of more than 90 solo exhibitions.

Margaret Olley was born in Lismore, New South Wales. She attended Somerville House in Brisbane during her high school years. She was so focused on art that she dropped one French class in order to take another art lesson. Her work concentrated on still life.

In 1997 a major retrospective of her work was organized by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She received the inaugural Mosman Art Prize in 1947. Olley was twice the subject of an Archibald Prize winning painting; the first by William Dobell in 1948 and the other by Ben Quilty in 2011. She was also the subject of paintings by many of her artist friends, including Russell Drysdale.

On 10 June 1991, in the Queens Birthday Honours list, Olley was made a Member of the Order of Australia 'for service as an artist and to the promotion of art'. On 12 June 2006, she was awarded Australia's highest civilian honour, the Companion of the Order, 'for service as one of Australia's most distinguished artists, for support and philanthropy to the visual and performing arts, and for encouragement of young and emerging artists'.

In 2006, Olley was awarded the degree Doctor of Fine Arts honoris causa by the University of Newcastle. On 13 July 2006 she donated more works to the Art Gallery of New South Wales; her donations included more than 130 works worth $7 million.

Olley died at her home in Paddington in July 2011, aged 88. She never married and had no children.


Good gift for art appreciators


Was bought as a gift for older recipient who loves art. Very heavy and beautiful book.

Orange, NSW


A fantastic Art Book/Australian Artist


Wonderful insight into Australian Artists work; amazing woman of her time.



Wonderful book - treasured by art buffs


Prompt delivery, goods in perfect condition.

Bellarine Peninsula, AU


Sumptuous and Beautiful


This was my birthday gift to myself. It is a beautiful book, the colour plates are gorgeous and the text narrative is a great read. I am a Margaret Olley fan clearly and I have longed to have this book for for some time. I am an oil painting student...have been painting all year and this book will give me some wonderful ideas for future paintings. BTW the book arrived in perfect, brand new, off the shelf condition. Well done Booktopia!



photos and presentation second to none



Country Victoria


Beautiful book


This is a glorious book. Beautiful images and entertaining text. Easy to read and access.

Palmerston North, New Zealand


Margaret Olley

5.0 6


ISBN: 9780947349585
ISBN-10: 0947349588
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 264
Published: 10th April 2012
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 29.000 x 28.000