This dear little lady sitting in a corner of her home, looking for all the world like the subject of a painting, is an artist. In fact she is one of Australia's most respected and prized artists. Currently she has an exhibition at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, my state capital, showing pen and watercolour sketches from her travels around the world.
This sketch is of the Brisbane River.
But it is not for this body of work that she is well known. Olley is renowned for her intensely vibrant still lifes. Her paintings show enchanting arrangements of flowers or fruits within her own home, painted from a palette of subtropical colours.
If you take a look behind the artist you can see that each nook and corner of home is a still life.
While she has been stunning art lovers for over 50 years Margaret Olley came to the public's attention in 1948 when she posed for Dobell's award winning Archibald portrait. In the photo above she is sitting below her portrait.
Demonstrating a fierce disregard for painting trends and fashions Margaret has always followed her muse. When asked in an interview if it was true that she painted for herself, she retorted "I do. Who would you paint for?" Olley was born in 1923, near Lismore, NSW, making her 86 this year.
Described as the most important twentieth century still life painter in Australia, Olley is also one of the country's biggest art benefactors, establishing a trust in her name to purchase works of art for public collection.
What a lady. She is truly a national treasure.