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Margaret Rose Preston

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1875 – 1963

“….. her restless temperament has discovered new themes, new colour arrangements, new sources of design-… Her colour sence is unerring: sparsely added to form, or rich and harmonious. She never repears a motive, and her art, original and beautiful, is a complete expression of personality.”

Lionel Lindsay, Addled Art, (1942), p.51.

Her life…Born in 1875 in Adelaide, South Australia.According to her own account, Margaret Rose Macpherson decided to become a painter when, aged twelve, she liked the smell of the floor polish in the New South Wales National Gallery.

Margaret studied art in Sydney under W. Lister Lister, at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, and at the Adelaide School of Design.Shared second prize for painting in 1897.

Took pupils of her own to support herself and save up for a study tour of Europe.In 1904 she went to Munich to attend the Government Art School for Women, going to Paris where she studied at the Musee Guimet and exhibited still lifes.After a brief return to Adelaide in 1907 she left again for Europe.

After the outbreak of war in 1914, Margaret, with good friend Gladys Reynall, took lessons in pottery making at the London Polytechnic so that they could teach shell-shocked soldiers in the Seale-Hayne Military Neurological Hospital, Devonshire, where Reynell’s brother was working as a surgeon.

In 1919, after returning to Australia by way of North America, she married William George Preston, a businessman, and settled in Sydney. The couple traveled extensively throughout Australia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Pacific Islands.Although well known for her decorative still lifes, she was also a skilful wood engraver and linocut printer. Her woodcut and linocut prints featuring Australian native plants have become very popular in recent years.

A writer and lecturer of art, she was a champion of and influenced by Aboriginal bark paintings. She was a member of the Society of Artists, the Australian Art Association and the Contemporary Group, Sydney.

At the Paris International Exhibition in 1937 she was awarded a silver medal.Influenced by other famous painters of the time like Cezanne as the greatest of the Moderns; Picasso as the greatest living Modern; and Matisse and Gaugin for their use of colour.

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