Wollongong gallery hosts Margaret Olley exhibition

President of Wollongong Art Gallery Friends society Alan Samways with some of Margaret Olley's paintings that feature in a tribute to her talent. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

President of Wollongong Art Gallery Friends society Alan Samways with some of Margaret Olley's paintings that feature in a tribute to her talent. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

The life and times of one of Australia's most beloved artists will be explored on Thursday as the Wollongong Art Gallery hosts a tribute to Margaret Olley.

Olley died in 2011 at the age of 88, leaving behind one of the richest legacies in Australian art history. With more than 90 exhibitions to her name in six decades, the subject of two Archibald Prize-winning portraits, and one of the Australian art community's most generous benefactors, her death was mourned nationwide.

Her old friend, biographer and estate co-executor, Christine France, will speak on her legacy at the Wollongong gallery on Thursday.

"She was one of the few artists who reached celebrity status. People loved her," Ms France said. "She painted to celebrate life, and just captured people's imaginations."

Ms France and Olley were friends for 40 years. Ms France spent the past few years moving the contents of the artist's studio to Tweed River Gallery and will share stories from their long relationship.

Wollongong Art Gallery currently houses two Olley paintings - one of Era Beach in the Royal National Park, and another titled Wailing Women Okapa.

The talk, an event of the Wollongong Art Gallery Friends society, will precede an Art Connect dinner later that night at which Ms France will also speak.

"Margaret was a national treasure and is still such a respected artist," said Alan Samways, president of the Gallery Friends.

The gallery talk begins at 1pm on Thursday and is open to the public.

For more information, call the gallery on 4227 8000.

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