Tweed art gallery director recognised for studio project
FORMER Grafton gallery director Susi Muddiman has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her work in securing the Margaret Olley Art Centre for the Tweed Regional Gallery.
Ms Muddiman has been director of the Tweed gallery for the past eight years and said it was a real honour to receive the award which was presented to her during a ceremony at Sydney's Admiralty House earlier this year.
The gallery director was instrumental in ensuring the late Margaret Olley's vision to recreate her famous studio came to fruition in the Northern Rivers region.
Ms Muddiman was involved in the process from the early negotiations between the trustees of the Olley estate after the artist's death in 2011, to overseeing the centre's construction and its official opening last year by then Governor General Quentin Bryce.
Ms Muddiman said more than 27,000 pieces had to be recorded, packed and transported from Margaret Olley's residence and studio in Sydney to the newly built arts centre. .
"She had the plan to recreate her studio not long before she passed away," Ms Muddiman said.
"I'm pleased we could see that wish realised."
Ms Muddiman said the initial meeting which took place in Olley's home "felt a little weird" but after numerous trips to Sydney the plan was set in motion and in early 2013 the items were transported north.
The contents included a range of the artist's personal possessions from the valuable, including artworks and fine porcelain to everyday household items.
A stuffed guinea pig sits near a rainbow of used paint tubes and half-consumed lolly packets, everything as it was left by the late artist.
The process of packing and unpacking took about eight months but the end result is a fitting homage to a one of the Australian art landscape's more colourful characters.
The installation is now a tourism blockbuster for region with visitor numbers more than doubling since its opening.
"Individually some items are worthless but together as a collection they are priceless," Ms Muddiman said.
Loaded with fragments from Olley's past and final days at her terrace in Paddington, a wheelie walker which stands among the piles of art books leaves the impression she is just in another room but Ms Muddiman assures there have been no strange occurrences since the arrival of the late great artist's belongings.
"You can feel her presence through her things, and there's a certain scent that has travelled with them but as far as I know there is no ghost," she said.