A pair of great artistic minds cross paths at the SH Ervin Gallery

Two of the great figures of the Australian art scene came together, at least spiritually, last Saturday evening when Edmund Capon officially opened Margaret Olley: painter, peer, mentor, muse, an exhibition of works by the late Margaret Olley and those who inspired her or were inspired by her.

I saw the pair together in 2011, when Capon was still Director of the Art Gallery of NSW, a position he held for a remarkable 33 years, and Olley was the subject of a Ben Quilty portrait which won the Archibald Prize. The pair seemed to be on the same wavelength and shared obvious mutual admiration.

It was certainly fascinating to listen to Capon talk about Olley’s life and recount some personal experiences.

The exhibition is one at the National Trust’s SH Ervin Gallery, not far from the Sydney Observatory, overlooking the Rocks, until 26 March, and it is well worth the admission price of $10 ($7 concessions and free for under 12s).

This major exhibition, curated by Renee Porter and organised in association with the Margaret Olley Art Trust, celebrates the influences of Margaret Olley as an artist from her student days and those she inspired throughout her life.

It explores the influences of her teachers on her practice, the inspirations that shaped her as a painter and finally her legacy to those artists she championed.

The exhibition includes works by Margaret Olley alongside those of her mentors Caroline Barker and Jean Bellette, her friends Mitty Lee-Brown, Margaret Cilento, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, Moya Dyring, Donald Friend, Jeffrey Smart, David Strachan and Anne Weinholt and younger artists whose work she championed, including Robert Barnes, Criss Canning, Cressida Campbell, Nicholas Harding and Ben Quilty

Believe me, it’s well worth a visit — as is the gallery itself and the nearby Sydney Observatory. And so, too, are a few nearby watering holes, especially the Palisades Hotel and the Lord Nelson.


Above: Edmund Capon opens Margaret Olley: painter, peer, mentor, muse, on show at the SH Ervin Gallery, in Sydney's Rocks district, until 26 March. Image: Catherine Miller. Below: Margaret Olley, painted by William Dobell and headed to win the Archibald Prize in 1948.


Margaret Olley and other artists, Margaret Olley: painter, peer, mentor, muse

SH Ervin Gallery, Watson Road, Millers Point

Phone 02 9258 0173

Web: http://www.shervingallery.com.au

Until 26 March