Entertainment & Arts

Australian artist Margaret Olley dies aged 88

Margaret Olley in her studio in 2005
Image caption Olley, pictured in 2005, was one of Australia's most respected artists

Australian artist Margaret Olley, much admired for her colourful still-life paintings, has died in Sydney aged 88.

Born in 1923, she was - according to broadcaster and journalist Clive James - "beloved den-mother to the senior generation of Australian painters".

In 2006 she received the Companion of the Order of Australia - the country's highest civilian honour - for her art, philanthropy and mentoring of artists.

Olley was found dead at her home on Tuesday, her gallery confirmed.

"She was an artist, there was absolutely no other career for her," said Edmund Capon of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where many of Olley's paintings are displayed.

"As a painter, Margaret found a wealth of beauty, humanity and inspiration in the most humble and prosaic of things."

Earlier this year, a portrait of Olley by the artist Ben Quilty won the Archibald Prize, one of Australia's oldest and most prestigious art awards.

Quilty told the Australian Associated Press that Olley was a "modern, contemporary lady" who "wanted people to strive to be better".

In an essay on his website, Clive James described Olley as "a highly sophisticated artist with a full range of learning in her medium".

The Australian commentator saluted "her sense of balance" and "generosity to the up-and-coming".

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