I'm visiting a friend who lives on the north coast of New South Wales. From tomorrow we'll spend three days at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, which seems to have become one of my yearly pilgrimages. But today we travelled to Murwillumbah to visit the Tweed Regional Gallery which, earlier this year, installed a replica of the studio of renowned Australian artist, Margaret Olley.
Australian painter Margaret Olley's life has been well-documented - she and her studio home have been photographed, painted, and filmed. There are biographies and beautiful catalogues of her many exhibitions. She was a gregarious host and attended many public events and, as she became wealthy, was a generous benefactor to the NSW Art Gallery, as well as a number of regional galleries (including the Tweed Regional Gallery). It seems very appropriate that as her life was so public, so the workspaces of her home and studio are now on public display.
The recreations are lovely. There's such vibrant colour, so many wonderful shapes, and such appealing vignettes in the midst of clutter. I wonder why we find artists' studios so appealing? I imagine one reason is that it gives us an insight into the process of an artists' work: not just the end product, but the way the work grows and is constructed. Olley's studio, like that of Giorgio Morandi I saw years ago in Italy, is particularly interesting because it contains many of the objects - the jugs and bowls and fabrics and rugs - that occur and recur in her still lifes and domestic interiors.
The Tweed Regional Gallery goes from strength to strength. Among other works it currently has an exhibition of works on paper by prominent Australian artists that I found very engaging. And there's always the landscape, attention-arresting as you approach the Gallery and see the river and paddocks with mountains to the west, but just as wonderful when glimpsed through the narrow windows that punctuate the gallery's walls.
I love seeing artist studios because I they look messy but actually are so well put together. It gives me hope that my similar mess could somehow look inspired!
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