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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Painting Margaret Olley

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Remembering Margaret 2013; oil on gessoed paper; 153 x 102cm; Collection of the artist

A man who had the awesome responsibility of creating a portrait of one of Australia’s best-known artists is coming to the Tweed River Art Gallery to tell all about the experience.

Nicholas Harding, himself a highly-acclaimed Australian painter, will be in conversation with TRAG curator Susi Muddiman in a special event on Friday June 14 from 6 to 8pm.

The evening is being held in conjunction with Drawing Margaret: Margaret Olley, an innovative exhibition of works by Mr Harding that will be featured at the Gallery from tomorrow until March 16.

The prize-winning artist will share his reminiscences – both humorous and poignant – about time spent with Margaret Olley at her Paddington home as he created a series of sketches and a watercolour painting of her.

In one of these anecdotes Mr Harding remembers, ‘while drawing and painting Margaret, I noticed she rarely ashed her cigarette.’

‘Having completed an oil study of Margaret, I laid it flat on the floor. After she had wandered over, ciggie in hand, I noticed the painting’s surface to be lightly flecked with ash, which had fallen as she’d inspected the work. It’s almost as if her DNA is held within the painting’s fabric, like an insect caught in amber.’

Ms Muddiman says ‘drawing Margaret showcases Nicholas’s skills as a draftsman and his command of the portraiture genre. His close relationship with Margaret is evident in these works, which reveal an endearing conviviality and connection to his subject.

‘These intimate sketches, etching and paintings have not been shown to the public before.’

Sourced from the artist’s personal holdings and private collections, Drawing Margaret presents Nicholas Harding’s admiration and gratitude for a much-loved icon of Australian art.

Limited tickets are available for $30 per person and bookings are essential by phoning the Gallery on (02) 6670 2790, with payment details, by June 11.


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