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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Artist-in-residence ‘moved’ by Olley’s plastic flowers

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Artist Guy Maestri with some of his work. His exhibition Echo wlill open at Tweed Regional Gallery on 17 March.
Artist Guy Maestri with some of his work. His exhibition Echo wlill open at Tweed Regional Gallery on 17 March.

Archibald Prize-winning artist Guy Maestri says he was genuinely moved by his time as artist-in-residence at the Margaret Olley Art Centre at the Tweed Regional Gallery.

But perhaps most surprisingly, the recreation of Olley’s home studio reminded Maestri of his love for his grandmother’s plastic flowers – which will feature in an upcoming exhibition at the gallery.

The Sydney-based artist completed a residency at the gallery last year, where he began a body of work inspired by objects in Margaret Olley’s home studio re-creation.

‘I was quite affected by my time spent in Olley’s home studio re-creation,’ he said.

‘Though it may only be an echo of her time in this world, it is filled with her treasured artefacts and ordinary objects, just as she left them. The space Margaret created, inhabited and regularly painted, is no longer interrupted and fluid; it’s fixed and preserved like a painting.’

Maestri will soon return to the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, which is preparing to feature his exhibition Echo, a collection of works spawned from his residency, which opens on March 17.

‘Plastic flowers, deemed cheap copies of the real thing, function similarly to paintings of flowers. Both extend the life of something beautiful and sensory, yet ephemeral,’ Maestri said.

‘This is also the case with Margaret Olley’s home studio – a home that, until I visited the re-creation, I knew only through her paintings.’

During his residency, Maestri painted many of the objects that filled Olley’s cluttered Sydney home, including her plastic flowers, and flowers of personal significance.

‘I paired the paintings of Margaret’s flowers with paintings of my grandmother’s orchids. These paired works become reflections, echoes and ghosts of sorts,’ he said.

‘They represent the capacity of objects, and paintings, to both hold and preserve memory and experience.’

Echo will feature in the Friends Gallery at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre from Friday, March 17, to Sunday, July 30.

Public programs

Art in the Pub: Monday 20 March, 6pm for 6.30pm (DST), Free. No bookings required.

The Courthouse Hotel, Burringbar Street, Mullumbimby

Artist Guy Maestri in conversation with gallery director Susi Muddiman. A collaborative event with Byron School of Art.

Artist Talk: Guy Maestri on objects and inspiration, Sunday, June 18, 11am

Free. No bookings required.


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