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Margaret Olley dies at 88 -

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ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: One of Australia's most loved and enduring artists, Margaret Olley, has died
in Sydney at the age of 88.

Margaret Olley was renowned for her elaborate still-life works, her colourful personality and her
generosity at the arts.

Anne-Marie Nicholson looks back at her remarkable career.

ANNE-MARIE NICHOLSON, REPORTER: Margaret Olley was the queen of Australian painting, just as happy
at the easel or the centre of attention as the artist's subject.

She was there in early 2011 when her portrait, by Ben Quilty, won the Archibald Prize, making her
the only person whose face has carried off the coveted award twice. Her sparkling eyes and cheeky
sense of humour were a trademark. As they were this day when she said she had considered Quilty's
request to pose nude.

MARGARET OLLEY, ARTIST: He did ask me to pose naked and I thought, "Will I or won't I?" And I
thought, "No."

ANNE-MARIE NICHOLSON: Margaret Olley was born in Lismore in NSW on 24 June 1923. She moved with her
parents at a young age to Far North Queensland. Her artistic talent was nurtured in Brisbane in her
teens when she attended Somerville House, a girls' boarding school.

MARGARET OLLEY: I remember I went to the principal and I said, "My mother had given me permission
to drop French and take an extra art lesson." I mean the woman never even asked to see this letter
that never existed. But I knew what I wanted to do.

ANNE-MARIE NICHOLSON: Art school followed, first at Brisbane Technical College and then East Sydney
Tech. From the 1940s Margaret Olley became part of the Sydney painting set, counting among her
friends artists who came to dominate Australia's art world.

Her first of more than 60 exhibitions was a 1948 at Sydney's Macquarie galleries. That same year a
portrait of her by Dobell won the Archibald Prize.

Margaret Olley's signature became her luscious still-life works, mostly painted in her famously
cluttered house and garden in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

NSW art gallery director Edmund Capon was a recipient of her kindness. She donated almost $7
million to the gallery in works and cash, most notably a cheque for $1 million towards the $16
million purchase of a Paul Cézanne painting.

MARGARET OLLEY: I said, "If you find a Cézanne I'll find you a million," so that was like an
incentive to go and look for a Cézanne.

ANNE-MARIE NICHOLSON: But there was a flipside to the smiling public face. Margaret Olley battled
depression, alcoholism and a tilt at suicide.

MARGARET OLLEY: I thought I was dying, I really wanted to kill myself, to be quite honest, but I
thought I'd make a mess of it.

ANNE-MARIE NICHOLSON: The closest she came to marriage was with her long-time partner, theatre
director Sam Hughes.

MARGARET OLLEY: I don't like to be owned. I'm a free spirit, and I hope I always remain a free
spirit, because being a free spirit allows you to do whatever you want to do.

ANNE-MARIE NICHOLSON: In later years, Margaret Olley cut a familiar figure on her walking frame and
at her beloved art galleries, leaving everyone in her wake with lasting impressions.

BEN QUILTY, ARTIST: You don't walk away from meeting someone like Margaret often, someone who has
such an incredibly left-of-centre view of the world ... and so refreshing. There's not much you can
say to her that she hasn't thought through, and she doesn't have an argument for.

ANNE-MARIE NICHOLSON: But Margaret Olley's legacy is greater. She's survived by thousands of her
paintings, lavish gifts to a string of city and regional galleries, and unforgettable memories
among friends and artists of an extraordinary woman.