Unlocking Margaret's House Still Life Challenge No 11: Margaret Olley and Ben Quilty

In 2021 during Covid Lockdown in Australia the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, a regional art gallery in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia, produced a series of Gallery At Home Still Life Challenges - inspired by the paintings of the magnificent Margaret Olley.

Today we bring you the video for the final Still Life Challenge encompassing the exhibition: At Home: Margaret Olley & Ben Quilty.

From the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre:

Since June 2020 we have been setting still life challenges inspired by exhibitions on display at the Margaret Olley Art Centre, and have loved giving special access to the objects that inspired Margaret Olley. What makes this challenge so unique is that our guest artist Ben Quilty has created a composition from his studio. Like Olley he has used the objects at hand, and we love this challenge as it reminds us that still life can include any object. Taking this view we can begin to see everyday objects, and hence everyday life, in a new way.1

‘At Home: Margaret Olley & Ben Quilty’ (was) on display in the Margaret Olley Art Centre from 12 November 2021 until 20 February 2022, tells the story of mentorship, art and friendship between Margaret Olley (1923 – 2011) and Ben Quilty (b. 1973). Two of Australia’s most celebrated artists, their unique friendship earned them the reputation of the odd couple of the Australian artworld. ‘At Home’ (brought) the work of these two celebrated artists together for the first time to reflect on the everyday as subject matter for painting and as a humble vehicle for the contemplation of humanity.1

The artists first met in 2002, when Olley was a guest judge of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. Olley awarded Quilty the scholarship prize that year and, from there, the friendship grew. In 2011, Quilty’s Archibald Prize-winning portrait of Olley propelled their friendship into the media spotlight, just months before Olley passed away at the age of 88.1

The two friends’ artwork has had little, if any, direct association. Quilty’s powerful, large-scale works have a fast-brushed, fervent energy – eloquently and relentlessly probing, exploring and questioning big ideas, big issues and big feelings. Olley’s works, on the other hand, are more often the result of many layers of paint, patiently built up over the course of multiple sittings. Olley’s subject matter was the domestic and the everyday. In this exhibition Quilty, confined at home during Australia’s first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, has made a new body of work, turning to ordinary objects as subject matter for painting – just as Olley had done.1

The Gallery would like to thank artist Ben Quilty for setting this challenge for us.Tweed Shire Council 1

Here is a Bookmark link from a past AnArt4Life post featuring two of Australia's most loved and respected artists who were the greatest of friends.

Ben Quilty and Margaret Olley
In 2011 Ben Quilty won Australia’s most prestigious prize for portraiture with his painting of artist Margaret Olley. I examine the painting and relationship between Olley and Quilty. Image: abc.net.au.

And the final Activity Sheet for those of you who have enjoyed in exploring deeper into this series.

1. gallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au