Margaret Woodward
Works from the Studio

Margaret Woodward

Works from the Studio

14 November to 12 December 2020

The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery presents a survey exhibition of Australian artist Margaret Woodward (b. 1938). The exhibition traces Margaret Woodward’s practice over five decades of painting and drawing with many works created in the Hornsby area of her birth. Included are early works from her time at the National Art School, where she was awarded a scholarship in 1955, through to more recent works created in her studio in the 2000s.

This exhibition reveals the amazing breadth in Woodward’s work, of subject matter, scale and her undercurrents of melancholy alongside brightly patterned work that emphasises colour and light.

Sensuality, lavish colour, vigorous drawing, dynamic composition and dramatic tonal range are all words used to describe Woodward’s work, whether it is her annual self-portrait, where emotions are expressed visually, majestic landscape views or sensitive interpretations of her various dogs. Woodward’s preferred format is the square and she enjoys working on a very large scale. In a 2002 interview with Elizabeth Fortescue she said, “I worked out a strategy that I would have an extremely large painting in my studio, so that when I came back and stood in front of the work it would occupy my entire area of vision… You stepped in front of it and it became your world. The possibility of visual and mental distractions would disappear.”  This reflects her creative focus and her concerns in managing life as an artist, teacher and single parent.

On selecting more than 40 works from Woodward’s studio, the curators stated, “It was inspiring to be in the space where she worked, amongst her tables of organised pastel colours and her beloved props, with the heady aroma from the orange blossoms in her garden. The racks of drawings and paintings reveal that Woodward is a masterful draughtsperson whose paintings and drawings show her love of carefully structured composition and dynamic colour and tone. But it also indicated her battle to succeed as a female artist in the Australian art scene.” For Woodward the beautiful studio she built holds “a quality of calm and freedom to it. Just to walk into the space produces in me a sense of joy and anticipation – it is almost a ritual sensation in itself….”*

While Woodward cannot attend the exhibition, we can know her through her works and through these 2002 words of Elizabeth Fortescue, “In physical size, Sydney artist Margaret Woodward is quite small. But when Woodward talks about her life and her art, she seems to occupy a much larger space. The voice is rich and deep, the gestures theatrical, the laughter cascading.” *

It is with thanks to Margaret Woodward’s daughter Britt Clapson for this unique opportunity to exhibit the art of Margaret Woodward and to confirm her major role in Australian visual arts.

* Elizabeth Fortescue, Daily TelegraphSydney Live, Dec 6 2002

Related downloads
Margaret Woodward From the Studios Catalogue Download PDF
Margaret Woodward From the Studios Room sheet Download PDF
Margaret Woodward From the Studio Learning Resource Download PDF


Images courtesy and © the artist

Installation photography Richard Glover