The Lismore over 50s Learning Centre members spice up the basic painting course by dressing up to honour the late Margaret Olley.
The Lismore over 50s Learning Centre members spice up the basic painting course by dressing up to honour the late Margaret Olley. Jay Cronan

Good golly it's Miss Olley

WHILE the NSW Government prepares to host a state memorial service in her honour, some Lismore artists have marked the passing of Margaret Olley in their own special way.

Helen Cooling and other members of the Lismore Over 50s Learning Centre gathered at the Lismore Girl Guides Hall on August 5, donning those things that Ms Olley was so often associated with: floppy hats, floral printed outfits, walking sticks or walking frames and the obligatory cigarette.

Lismore-born Ms Olley, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1991 for her “service as an artist and to the promotion of art”, died at her Paddington, Sydney, home on July 26. She was aged 88.

“We brought in lots of still life paintings and just enjoyed the fact that Margaret Olley had been such a wonderful philanthropic and productive artist,” Mrs Cooling said.

Mrs Cooling, who is a retired visual arts high school teacher, is one of the instructors at the Learning Centre which takes classes ranging from gentle exercise to art courses including basic drawing, print making, mosaics, interpretive painting and expressive drawing.

“We look back at the history of art in lots of ways and discuss other artists' paintings and exchange our own ideas,” Mrs Cooling explained.

“Margaret Olley was a topic of conversation and a member suggested we have a tribute to her.”

Mrs Cooling said many members of her group were concerned Lismore may have missed out on giving a home to some of Ms Olley's paintings because the construction of a new gallery did not proceed.

“Margaret Olley was perhaps one of the last of the modern painters and she bridged the gap in her work by not only her association with other artists but with her patronage of young artists,” Mrs Cooling said.

“The world of art will be poorer for losing such a great artist and philanthropist, and many young artists will not be able to enjoy her patronage.”

A state memorial service for Ms Olley will be held at the Art Gallery of NSW on Wednesday, August 24, starting at 11am.

Ms Olley donated more than 140 works to the gallery.



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