A Woman and her Craft: Margaret Olley

Margaret Olley 1923-2011

Australian readers happening upon this post will recognise the work of national treasure,  Margaret Olley. She is a legend in the Australian art scene and much missed after passing at the age of 88 in July 2011. She is best known for her vibrant oil paintings of interiors and still life. Hers was an eye of beauty. A free spirit, she wore many hats...an artist, philanthropist, property developer, mentor to young artists, intrepid traveller, keen theatre and opera enthusiast..she had a simple philosophy on life and her paintings were a means to celebrating that life. She was an intrepid traveller, filling her studio with artifacts from her travels to New Guinea, Indonesia and many other countries, calling herself "the original bag lady." 

A friend said she went out of this world just as she pleased. "She went the way she wanted, with paint still on her fingers, cigarettes stubbed out and off to bed after a full day of painting." A life well lived and so many who have benefited from it. A toast to Margaret Olley!

To coincide with the work of Margaret Olley, I have combined a magazine article from Australian House and Garden. Her work inspired the 'domestic vignettes' featured below.

"My paintings are about celebrating life" 
Margaret Olley

Red Hibiscus (1978)
Australian House and Garden

Yellow Room with Lupins (1994)

Australian House and Garden magazine

Still Life with Mandarins (1975)

Australian House and Garden magazine

Yellow Tablecloth with Cornflowers 

Cyclamens and Apples (2005)
Australian House and Garden magazine

Sitting Room Evening
Still Life and Rushcutters Bay

Margaret Olley, a woman and her craft.
Photographed by Michael Amendolia 2010

Happy Friday and Best Wishes for 
colourfully inspired weekend!
Jeanne xx

More from the Collage of Life series, 
'A Woman and her Craft':

Artist, Margaret Olley
Artist, Kate Mears
Textile Designer, Charlene Mullen
Graphic Artist, Claire Brewster
Artist, Aida Tomescu
Weaving Women and their Craft
A Room for Arts and Craft
A Woman and her Garden

You Tube: NewsOnABC
Decorating images viaAustralian House and Garden magazine.
Styling Matt Page/ Photography Maree Homer


  1. What a darling, charming woman. Thanks for introducing me to her work.


  2. Jeanne what a fabulous woman and artist! I love her color filled studio!


    Art by Karena

  3. Hello Jeanne
    Margaret Olley was spectacular, in her art, how she lived her life, her generosity and independence.
    Thank you for this delightful and informative post. I am heading back to re-read and watch the video again.

    Helen xx

  4. What a character. I could live with her work.

  5. A nice tribute. It looks like she was an amazing artist. Laura

  6. A national treasure to be sure! I was not familiar with Margaret, but I will definately have to do a bit of research to learn more about her. I love Still Life paintings, and these are such beautiful examples.

    Jeanne, I hope that you are having a great week! Enjoy your weekend!

    Thank you for sharing such an interesting lady.

    I have a post about an interesting 82 year old Japanese artist today, in fact a retrospective of her work will beat the Tate in February. I will give you a hint... she has been called the polka a dot princess.

    Take care my friend! Elizabeth

  7. Thanks for the introduction to this amazing artist...love the colorful artwork!!

  8. "An extraordinary woman". Thank you for sharing her and her story.

  9. Margaret Olley's paintings were as colourful as her life. She is an inspiration to all those who paint. I'd like to visit her cluttered home and garden!

  10. The sculpture of her is so very pretty!I`ve never heard of Margaret Olley, but her paintings are full of loveliness....

    I wish that I still can work and create when I´m 88! :)

    Have a sunshiny weekend, Jeanne! We`ve got one here at the moment...

    Beate XXX

  11. Her work is just lovely. Thanks for the introduction, Jeanne.

  12. Thank you for sharing her work ... such an extraordinaire.

  13. Hi, Jeanne. Really enjoyed this post on Margaret Olley. Lovely painting and what a character! Generous to boot.
    Also enjoyed your "M" word post.
    best, nadia

  14. A great post, Jeanne! Thanks for introducing me to this artist! ~ Joe

  15. Jeanne, I know you posted this a long time ago. If I was really rich I would buy myself a Margaret Olley or two. I think her work was absolutely brilliant and I can see you've taken a big shine to her too xx Neat


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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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