Tweed River Art Gallery – Margaret Olley Art Centre

Status: Completed March 2014

Location: Murwillumbah, Tweed Shire

Lump Sum (Design and Construct)

Value: $2.9M + GST

Category: Building / Hospitality & Entertainment / Community & Infrastructure

Project Details

The Tweed River Art Gallery (TRAG) was bequeathed some of “the most famous rooms in Australian art”, by the renown Australian artist, Margaret Olley as part of her estate. Margaret Olley was one of the most significant and prolific artists of a generation, and as she grew up in the region, she bestowed TRAG the honour of relocating and recreating the “Hat Factory”, “Yellow Room” and kitchen of her Paddington (Sydney) home.

The project was totally unique in that approximately 75,000 items were lovingly and carefully catalogued, removed and relocated to Murwillumbah. They were then placed in the exact same location and way to create a precise reproduction at the new Margaret Olley Art Centre.

Margaret Olley was a “rock star” of the art world and a totally unique individual. She lived as she lived. The brief to relive her home was never going to be a normal building project. The windows, doors, rugs, crockery, cutlery, pain brushes and even cigarette butts were as they were when she passed away. Some of the pieces were literally held together with only a coat of paint. Even spider webs were removed and transported. Incomplete paintings are on her easels as they were.

Many of the people who knew her well and who regularly visited her home have commented that they expect to see her walking around the rooms. They even contain her scent. They contain her spirit.

The Art Centre was built inside a purposed designed and build extension to TRAG, and includes an “Artist in Residence” retreat, where visiting artists can harness creativity and gain inspiration. An additional stand-alone structure “The Pavilion” was also added to the project, and this will be utilised for functions and events.

The Margaret Olley Art Centre was officially opened on Saturday 15th March 2014 by her Excellency the Honourable, Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, who knew Margaret well and was a regular visitor to her home. She was astonished at the results.

The centre celebrates the life, legacy and works of one of Australia’s most loved artists. Many other art galleries in Australia would have been very pleased to have been able to have this centre as part of their premises. TRAG were thrilled to be bestowed this honour.

There is no other display like this in Australia to date and is set to become a national and international cultural attraction. Alder Constructions nailed a very specific, unique and interesting brief.

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