Ben Quilty reflects on his studio practice


Ben Quilty reflects on his work, art practice and career at the opening of his exhibition ‘Quilty’ currently at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) until 13 October 2019. Quilty is in conversation with friend and exhibition curator Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, Art Gallery of South Australia.

Ben Quilty in conversation

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Quilty gives us an insight into his day, his working practice at his studio in the Northern Highlands of New South Wales, his place of solitude, and his current and future projects. He also fondly remembers Margaret Olley (1923–2011), the subject of his 2011 Archibald winning portrait, and her lasting influence.

At the same time as ‘Quilty’, GOMA is presenting ‘Margaret Olley: A Generous Life’, a Queensland-only exhibition of more than 100 works by the late, much celebrated Australian artist who was a close muse and mentor of Quilty’s. ‘A Generous Life’ examines her legacy and influence, and profiles a life that was immersed in art – her own and those she supported.

Tribute to Margaret Olley

Quilty has created a series of site-specific, hand-drawn portraits of Margaret Olley. These large-scale chalk drawings are based on preparatory sketches he made for the Archibald portrait. Quilty has cast in chalk some of the objects Olley gave him over the years; teapots, jugs, and vases, and used these to produce the wall drawings.

The pastel mural, a gentle palate of pinks and blues, a homage to Margart Olley has been made by using objects cast in chalk and using these cast jugs and vases as drawing tools.

Ben Quilty: Family Portrait

As well as including portraits of himself, his friends and family in the exhibition ‘Quilty’, the artist has also worked with the Gallery’s Children’s Art Centre (CAC) to develop ‘Ben Quilty: Family Portrait’, a project that encourages children to explore the art of portraiture through hands-on and multimedia activities (but adults can join in too!).

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‘Ben Quilty: Family Portrait’

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Feature image: Ben Quilty’s studio in the Northern Highlands of New South Wales.

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