Saturday, July 4, 2009

Musing On: Oranges and Penguins

Over the last few days EmpireLady has determined the need for
a therapeutic dose of orange....

the perfect antidote to winter misery?

EmpireLady is so pleased with the orange trees outside her windows. The trees are a great source of fascination, evocative of distant memories of the fruit that used to appear at Christmas time, wrapped individually in purple tissue paper.

A text on the Psychology of Colour states 'orange is shown to have only positive affects on your emotional state. This colour relieves feelings of self-pity, lack of self-worth and unwillingness to forgive. Orange opens your emotions and is a terrific antidepressant'.

Perhaps this affection for orange has crept up on EmpireLady
as she recalls french doors, curtained with 70's Hicks linen

However, now fully dosed with its forgiveness promoting properties,
EmpireLady has made a visual list of all things orange:

available via Penguin

Ever since the creation of the first Penguin paperbacks in 1935, their jackets have become a constantly evolving part of Britain's culture and design history. The books have become design classics. All of the following are available through Bloomsbury

Available through Bloomsbury

EmpireLady's favourite fellow orange-obsessive Margaret Olley is perhaps Australia's most prized interior and still life painter who, at 86 years of age, continues to demonstrate a fierce disregard for trends and fashion. Her exquisite compositions of flowers, fruit and objects have an inherent grace, the arrangements are always elegant and the objects always beautiful. She first came to public attention as the beguiling subject of Dobell's portrait which took the Archibald prize in 1948, these days both the portrait and the lady are regarded as national treasures. Is Miss Olley a testament to the therapeutic properties of the hue for improving the temperament? The interview posted below illustrates the question:

"There is no more passionate supporter of the arts in this country than the indefatigable, ever-inspirational Margaret Olley," Edmund Capon, director of the Art Gallery of NSW, said in 2006, when Miss Olley was honoured in the Queen's Birthday list for her services to art. At the time it was estimated that she had given the Art Gallery of NSW 130 works worth about $7 million, including important lithographs by Picasso, Cezanne and Bonnard. In 2005 she donated a colour drawing by Edouard Vuillard which she had expressly purchased for the gallery.

Late last year on September 19 it was announced that Margaret Olley had signed a personal cheque for $1 million to enable Edmund Capon to secure Paul Cezanne's post-impressionist painting 'Bords De La Marne' for $16.2 million for the Art Gallery of NSW. "I told him before he went on holiday that if he found a Cezanne I would give him a million dollars," she says. The money was the proceeds from her latest exhibition, kept in an art trust for this purpose. Miss Olley, now 86, has been a prolific patron of the visual arts throughout her life and this donation is perhaps her most dramatic gesture, done in public to inspire others also to donate to the cause. About 85 per cent of the price of the painting has been raised so far. She has also donated either her own work or examples from her private collection to regional and metropolitan galleries throughout her life, usually without any fanfare.

In an age where investing in art has become a national obsession, here is someone who happily gives hers away. Her paintings are now in the blue-chip category but she still prefers a simple life, part of her philosophy for happiness. Miss Olley comes from a humble background, being raised near Lismore during the Depression. As a young child she remembers not getting any pocket money unless she made her bed. As a student in Sydney she paid her way through art school by grape-picking and painting theatre sets for two shillings and sixpence an hour. "I learned generosity at my mother's knee," she says. "My mother and father were the most generous people. My father caught more fish than we ever needed, so he gave the rest away to neighbours. He grew his own vegetables, so he gave them away as well. I learned from them that giving is much better than receiving."

She has had periods of great struggle. She once bought a small property near Newcastle and paid it off through her painting. This was before her work sold for anything close to today's values and she came close to losing the place. She can recall sleeping with the cheque-book open next to her so that she wouldn't forget to make the next repayment. "I worked hard to make myself independent by painting ..... if you're doing what you want to do, it doesn't cost much to live."

Miss Olley states "As you get older, you move to a point where you can give back to society .... the world would be a much better place if all the retired teachers, accountants, plumbers and butchers were encouraged to give back a little bit of their knowledge to society." Giving back is what she has done by helping fund the acquisition of the Cezanne painting. She calls it the most important work in the gallery and hopes it will inspire a new generation of artists in the same way that his work inspired her as a young woman. She sees it as a great investment in social as well as financial terms. "My donation is just the beginning," she says. "I hope that everyone gives what they can."

Biggest break When I came down from Lismore and went to East Sydney Tech [now the National Art School].

Biggest achievement Handing over the money for the Cezanne is the most important thing I have done. I've never written a cheque for a million before. I had to ask Edmund: how many 0s?

Biggest regret None. Regrets are a waste of time.

Best investment Friendships. Unfortunately I've always preferred the company of older people, so that makes it pretty difficult at my age.

Worst investment Buying that property in Newcastle, I suppose. I'm much happier living here in Sydney.

Attitude to money It's only paper, isn't it?

Personal philosophy I don't understand the current obsession with the "me" and the "I". The best way to exist is to forget about yourself and just get on with it.

gum blossom at Christmas time
Orange makes other colours just a little more alive.
To illustrate the point:
the image from the Cupcake Room reminiscent of David Hockney's
'Nichols Canyon Road'

and 'A Bigger Grand Canyon' at the Australian National Gallery

another British David

Katherine Weber's tiger lilies

an Ebay find

beloved of Liberties in the 70's, time for a re-run?

Lilium Superbum, quite rare in Australia, lie dormant in the garden

H is for Hint and for Hermes, from Donna Parker Habitat.
EmpireLady would very much like one of these.


home before dark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Empire Design said...

mmmm... I don't know what happened there was a lovely comment.... I think that EmpireLady's typing is so bad that she hit the wrong key ....sorry

Blog Widget by LinkWithin