Margaret Olley, an alumni of the National Art School, has been the primary driving for public protests. Having been around since the 40s, Olley has been a key figure for the school, ever since it was known as the East Sydney Technical School.
Earlier in March, at a celebration attended by the alumni of the school, a veritable who’s who of the country’s art scene, the Margaret Olley Trust revealed that Olley was leaving one more gift for the school, even after her passing. The foundation announced that the National Art School will be receiving a $500,000 donation from Olley, for work on the school and its school chairs, on top of the central building, where Olley spent a lot of her time learning, will be named in honour of her.
This donation is the largest to the school within recent memory, and is only one step in the plans for the revitalisation and expansion of the National Art School, established all the way back in 1843, which is only happening thanks to a granted lease from the state government, lasting for 45 years, which effectively gives the institution permanent occupancy.
Alongside Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Art School has been officially recognised as organisations significant to the state, a status that gives them funding for several years, which, in the case of the Art School, removes the constant threat of merger and closure.
Director Steven Alderton says that Margaret Olleywould’ve been at the drawing classes held in that building back in the 40s. The building, he notes has been hosting drawing classes for more than 7 decades now, and will continue to do so for years to come. That’s part of the reason, Alderton says, is why she loved it there.
Alderton says that the Olley bequest will go directly to the National Centre for Drawing, for the support of contemporary practice, the acquisition of supplies like school chairs, and the development of new studios and an additional gallery.
Notably, the school welcomed 205 new students on the first day of the current academic year earlier in March, with their ‘future is art’ motto.