welcome spring

When I think of Spring I often remember our national treasure, Margaret Olley and her amazing work. Olley, our skilled Australian painter is prized and noted for her vibrant still-life paintings and intimate interiors. Her paintings of florals and fruits epitomize Spring;  vibrant azelias, citrus, cyclamen, cornflours, calendulas, daffodils, lily sprays, pears, poppies and pomegranates, quinces and tamarillos. Not to mention her gorgeous jugs, pots, vases, tablecloths and incredible Sydney vistas.  

Olley is also well known for her organised clutter of artefacts from around the world and her furniture. In Olley’s own words she ‘painted what was around her because it was easy to get at’.  I guess in the same way we enjoy cooking and creating using fresh seasonal produce that’s all around us.

Margaret Olley is frequently remembered as never dull or boring, a lady of blunt honesty, generosity and shrewd judgement who was always politically incorrect. Not at all unlike her very dear friend Barry Humphries, currently touring to packed crowds on the Gold Coast in eat, pray laugh.

When I first learned that Margaret Olley attended high school at Somerville House in Brisbane, I laughed long and loud. It’s the same school I attended for 9 years some 40 years later. My laughter was due to the still fresh memories of anguish when asked to paint a self-portrait in Mrs Green’s Grade 7 art class. Argh!!  Correct me if I’m wrong Somerville friends...I think it was Grade 7 and mine was truly appalling.

There’s no better place to celebrate Spring and the re-birth of Olley’s work and life than at the Tweed River Art Gallery in Murwillumbah, NSW. Last November, the Margaret Olley Art Trust offered Tweed River Art Gallery a contribution of $1 million towards the establishment of the Margaret Olley Art Centre, which will be housed in a purpose-built extension to the Gallery. The magic world of Margaret Olley will live on, not far from her birthplace in Lismore. The Centre will include a re-creation of Olley’s studio and elements of her home and collection. I can’t wait! It’s the ideal location in Australia to celebrate Olley’s work and her favourite colour - green, in the shadows of Mt Warning and the lush Tweed Valley landscape.

In the meantime, there's so much to love about this regional gallery already. Check out their Exhibition program.   If you’ve got children, best go along before 30 September, as the Look! The art of picture books Exhibition is really incredible for the whole family. Gallery Open 10am-5pm Wed-Sun.

Margaret Olley had barely put her brushes down before passing away in July last year at the age of 88. She had become and will always remain one of the great Australian painters of the 20th century. A living presence in Australian art, not just for Spring but for all Seasons...for always.

NOW is the best time to enjoy Australia's fabulous Spring produce;

Apples-  Pink Lady, Fuji & Granny Smith, Asparagus, Alfalfa, Avocados - Hass & Wurtz, Basil, Beans - Broad Beans, Butter Beans, Beetroot, Broccolini, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots,  Cabbages, Cauliflower, Cavendish Bananas, Cucumbers, Celeriac, Cos Lettuce, Eggplant, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Galangal, Globe Artichokes, Herbs - Coriander, Dill, Rosemary, Basil, Mint, Lemongrass, Thyme & Parsley, Leeks, Lettuce - Cos, Honeydew Melons, Kiwifruit, Lemons, Limes, Mandarins Afourer, Oranges - Navel, Passionfruit, Paw Paw, Peas - Snow Peas & Garden Peas, Persimmon, Parsnips, Potatoes - Sebago, Kipfler, Lady Christi, Kestrel, Bintje, Pink Eye & Bismark Potatoes, Pears - Beurre Bosc,  Pumpkins, Red & Brown Onions, Red flesh Grapefruit, Strawberries, Tangelo, Taro, Tamarillos, Tomatoes - Baby Roma Truss, Cherry Truss, Roma, Grape & Cherry, Seedless Watermelons, Wombok, Yam, Zucchini

Join me on the EAT IT WHILE IT'S IN FULL SEASON band-wagon.  You'll save heaps of money and your baking and everyday meals will taste better than ever. Shop to the Season.

For Dad - After roast chook on Sunday, I’ll probably make a traditional bread and butter pudding OR Stephanie Alexander’s luscious Lemon Delicious Pud from her Cook’s Companion.  Happy Father’s Day to all Dads - enjoy your special day :-)