Still life with marigolds and oranges

Born Kyogle, New South Wales, Australia 1923


Margaret Olley has been awarded and recognised nationally for her art, and her contribution to the arts in Australia has been significant as both an artist and benefactor.

During the 1940s Olley, who had studied at the Brisbane Central and East Sydney Technical Colleges and La Grande Chaumiére, Paris, was associated with the Hill End artists of New South Wales. In 1949 her portrait, painted by her friend William Dobell, won the Archibald Prize.

Still life and interior paintings are the dominant feature of Olley’s oeuvre. Her home, containing an eclectic assortment of flowers, books and objects, has provided continual subject matter and inspiration, offering an exotic mixture of colours and textures.

Olley’s career has been recognised with many accolades. Winner of the Mosman Art Prize (1947) and Helena Rubinstein Portrait Prize (1962), she has had major retrospectives of her work at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1996), the Queensland Art Gallery (2003), and at the Nevill Keating Pictures Gallery, London (2000 and 2005).

In 1991 Olley was awarded the Order of Australia, and in 2006, Companion of the Order of Australia. In addition she holds honorary doctorates from the Macquarie University (1991), the University of Queensland (2000), and the University of Sydney (2000).

Olley’s work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, most state galleries, and many regional galleries and universities.