Margaret Olley was much loved by many and it was a sad day for MRAG when she passed away on the 26th July 2011.
MRAG was proud to have ‘Olley’ accept the honour of being a patron of Maitland Regional Art Gallery, and she delighted all who attended the grand re-opening of our gallery in August 2009, alongside our other gallery patron Ray Wilson.
There are two wonderful paintings by Margaret Olley in the MRAG Collection, we also have a number of beautiful prints. Banksias, is a large oil on board painting by Olley from 1970 and this work was kindly donated to MRAG by William Bowmore in 1976. The other, smaller painting, Bedroom Still Life, painted in 1997, reveals a mirror reflection of Olley and a glimpse of some of the ephemera and still life subject matter, which eventually filled her home. This work made its way into the Collection with the financial assistance of the Art Gallery Society in 1998.
Margaret Olley not only supported the gallery in spirit as patron, but also in a more fiscal fashion. In 2008, Olley donated to MRAG a number of limited edition, multi-plate, coloured etchings, some to join the collection and others for MRAG to raise funds at auction to support the gallery. The etchings are beautiful reproductions of her still life paintings of flowers, fruit and blue and white china. [The blue and white china in these prints remind me of my own moment with Margaret Olley; when she first arrived at MRAG for our grand opening event, Olley left everyone waiting as she was distracted by the blue and white china in our new shop. She eventually purchased half the items in the cabinet – all for future paintings no doubt!].
Olley was also well known as a great supporter of other artists and would purchase works by emerging artists then gift them to public galleries. Olley donated the Cressida Campbell wood block painting, Oblique View, to the MRAG Collection as a gift at the grand opening. Later that year she assisted MRAG purchase a large Nicholas Harding work on paper, River figures (paddle and hat). An interesting connection, as MRAG was gifted a Nicholas Harding portrait of Margaret Olley, donated to the gallery by Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth the same year.
Vale Margaret Olley AO AC
Margaret Olley, Bedroom Still Life, 1997, Oil on board, 61 x 91cm.
Margaret Olley, Yellow Tablecloth with Cornflowers, 2008, Multi-plate coloured etching, Ed A/P,65.2 x 59.5cm