Margaret Olley (1923-2011), The Guitar Players

Artist: Margaret Olley 1923 - 2011

Title: The Guitar Players

Date: 1963

Medium: oil on masonite

Moreton Bay Regional Council Art Collection, Queensland, Australia

EMu user since 2009

Margaret Olley (1923-2011), The Guitar PlayersProduced and acquired in 1963, The Guitar Players is one of three works by the late, great Margaret Olley in the Moreton Bay Regional Council Art Collection. As winner of the Representational Oil category of the Sunday Truth and Redcliffe Art Contestant Society Prize, Olley’s piece was awarded 100 Guineas and acquired by the former Redcliffe City Art Collection.

Depicting two male Island youths Olley had come to know through fellow artist, Donald Friend, the subjects are the same as those depicted in a similar work, The Guitarists, represented in another public collection. The vibrancy of colour is representative of Olley’s palette and the background subject matter is suggestive of the tropics, of which she was so fond.

Olley moved away from figurative painting in the mid sixties to concentrate instead on floral subject matter, still life and landscapes. Her Victoria Bridge Brisbane work of 1966 (watercolour) is also included in the Moreton Bay Regional Council Art Collection.

Olley’s extensive travels brought a cultural infusion to her work. She was also influenced by the work of artistic friends such as Drysdale, Fairweather, Friend and Cilento. Similarly, Olley has inspired three artists to submit her portrait to the esteemed Archibald Prize – Sir Russell Drysdale, Sir William Dobell and Ben Quilty, the latter two being awarded the prize.

A major survey exhibition by the Art Gallery of New South Wales took place in 1966 followed by numerous public accolades. Olley was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1991, she was declared an Australian National Treasure in 1997, and in 2006 she was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia for her services to art and philanthropy.


Collection of Moreton Bay Regional Council. Sandra Conte of Conte Creative Concepts. Image by Communicaé - Al Sim