Margaret Olley 1923 - 2011

Margaret Olley (1923-2011) who passed away on 26 July, was one of Australia’s best known and well-loved painters. Born in Lismore in 1923 she attended high school in Brisbane at Somerville House where she was taught by Caroline Barker, and later attended Brisbane Central Technical College and East Sydney Technical College. Best known for her still life paintings, a major retrospective of her work was held by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1997.

Margaret Olley and her prize winning painting ‘Susan with flowers’, 1963. John Oxley Library Image 195940

She was twice the subject of the winning portrait in the Archibald Prize, the first in 1948 by William Dobell and this year by Ben Quilty. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1991 and a Companion in 2006, for both her painting and her philanthropy of the arts.

Margaret Olley’s life is thoroughly documented in the Australian Library of Art with catalogues and posters of her exhibitions, books on her life and work and programmes for theatrical programmes for which she painted the scenery. Ten solo exhibitions of her work and thirteen group exhibitions were held at the Johnstone Galley in Brisbane and her career is documented through the records of the Gallery which are held by the Australian Library of Art. They include exhibition catalogues, photographs, exhibition reviews, newsclippings and other records.

These and other items can be located via our One Search Catalogue.

On 25 January 2010 State Library of Queensland recorded an interview between Margaret Olley and Peter Underhill, available here.

Helen Cole

Librarian - Australian Library of Art

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