Margaret Olley: The Art of Flowers

7 September 2022 - 12 March 2023

Basket of calendulas - Margaret Olley

Margaret Olley (1923-2011)
Basket of calendulas 1967
oil on composition board, 74.5 x 100cm.
Donated anonymously 2002
University Art Collection, Chau Chak Wing Museum, The University of Sydney, UA2002.8
© Margaret Olley Art Trust

… a symphonist among flower painters…¹

This exhibition celebrates Margaret Olley’s favourite subject – the beauty and joy of flowers. Olley dedicated her career to exploring the endless possibilities of humble, domestic objects combined with colourful, textural and sculptural arrangements of cornflowers, delphiniums, calendulas, hydrangeas, poppies, marigolds, flannel flowers, hippeastrums and more.

The Art of Flowers brings together some of the finest examples of her much celebrated flower paintings, spanning five decades, from public and private collections.

The exhibition includes some of Olley’s early explorations of still life via a rich and expansive palette, despite modern art trends. From here flows the story of her extraordinary life and the evolution of her practice, both entwined and driven by her singular vision and her obsession to paint.

Albeit a humble subject, The Art of Flowers is a splendid offering of rarely seen paintings by Australia’s most celebrated painter of still life.

Audio guide - The Art of Flowers

1. James Gleeson - Introduction to the Johnstone Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1964

Supported by