New exhibition for the Margaret Olley Art Centre - Margaret's House

Margaret Olley, Nicholas Harding, Pam Tippett and Adam Pyett

Thursday 8 October, 2020

Some of the finest examples of Margaret Olley's still lifes and interiors, from public and private collections, plus new works by three contemporary Australian painters are featured in Margaret's House, the latest exhibition at the Margaret Olley Art Centre from Wednesday 28 October 2020.

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre Director, Susi Muddiman OAM said painters Nicholas Harding, Pam Tippett and Adam Pyett were invited to explore the re-creation of Margaret Olley's home studio at the Gallery, using it as inspiration for their own works. 

"For nearly 50 years Olley's home studio was both site and subject matter for her paintings. The Margaret's House exhibition re-activates the home studio as subject matter for painting," Ms Muddiman said. 

Nicholas Harding chose to begin by drawing in Olley's famous sitting room. "Drawing all day in the Gallery's re-creation of Margaret's home and studio is a lovely way to be in conversation with someone who isn't there but whose presence can be felt everywhere in the room," Harding said. 

After making multiple studies and sketches during his residency, on returning to his studio, he then completed a spectacular painting of the interior titled 'The poppy rider'. Harding's generous and dynamic application of paint captures a sense of the theatrical energy of the space infused with the colours, textures and forms that Olley arranged in her home. 

Adam Pyett also began by making drawings as studies."The first part of Margaret Olley's house that intrigued me as a subject for still life paintings was the display of objects on the mantelpiece in the yellow sitting room," Pyett said. "The first few drawings I made were of these objects. When I returned to my own studio I made paintings from the drawings I did in Margaret's house."

Pam Tippett's approach differed because she painted her compositions directly from life. She selected a small number of objects, re-staging them against a neutral background in the Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio. "It was a treat to enter Margaret's re-created home studio and sit amongst her extensive and eclectic collection of objects and soak up the atmosphere," Tippet said.

This intersection of Olley's home studio and her paintings alongside the contemporary responses presents a renewed context for Olley's practice and the genre of still life painting in Australia today. 

The exhibition Margaret's House will be on display in the Margaret Olley Art Centre at Murwillumbah from 28 October 2020 until 2 May 2021. 

The Gallery's online artmaking challenge, Unlocking Margaret's House, will continue throughout this exhibition. 

To learn more, follow Tweed Regional Gallery on Facebook or Instagram #unlockingmargaretshouse or visit