I used to have a cheap print of this Margaret Olley painting mounted on foamcore, but with my many moves over the years it got battered and bruised and eventually I got rid of it. I still miss it. I loved the simplicity of the domestic scene and the vivid blue of the cornflowers and crockery.
I very much like this quote of hers: “I’ve never liked housework. I get by doing little chores when I feel like them, in between paintings. Who wants to chase dust all their life? You can spend your whole lifetime cleaning the house. I like watching the patina grow. If the house looks dirty, buy another bunch of flowers, is my advice.” (Quoted in Meg Stewart’s Margaret Olley: Far from a still life)
Pardon the terrible photos of the next two paintings. They were actual gifts, from our dear friend Barry, who died almost 20 years ago and left them to my mum. But they are also gifts in another way because they remind us of him. Even though we pass by them every day without really thinking about them, when I pay attention and look at them I remember him so fondly.
I didn’t like the Billich much when I first saw it (it’s all pinks and pastels and seemed a bit too…slick? for my taste – it’s just not my style) but because of the connection to Barry I love it now. I remember it hanging on the wall at his flat in Chippendale.
Barry was the bursar at my high school (where he and my mum met). Many of the parents at the school were creative, arty types, and he often had to deal with pleas for clemency when the school fees were due and money was tight. One of the parents had painted this portrait of violinist Richard Tognetti for the Archibald (it didn’t get hung though). Barry bought the painting so the artist would be able to pay his child’s school fees. That was just the kind of guy he was.
It was a pain to carry around with us from house to house when we were renting (mainly because we’d always need to find a wall big enough to hang it on and the kind of houses we could afford to rent didn’t really lend themselves to grand works of art) but we would never have gotten rid of it. Now it’s by the front door and we see it every day.