The NSW Minister for the Arts, George Souris, today visisted the Tweed River Art Gallery in Murwillumbah to announce $200,000 in funding for the proposed Margaret Olley Art Centre.

The funding, which will be matched by Tweed Shire Council, has been provided through the 2012 Arts Funding Program.

“I am pleased to provide the funding, which will contribute to the development of strong infrastructure in our State, support opportunities people have to enjoy the arts and assist in the further development of the Tweed region as a tourism destination,” Mr Souris said.

Mayor of Tweed Councillor Barry Longland welcomed the support from the State Government towards the project.

“I would like to thank the Government and in particular, the Minister for the Arts, for coming on board and being part of what promises to be a fabulous project,” Councillor Longland said.

“I know the Member for Lismore, Thomas George, has been a great advocate of the Margaret Art Olley Centre, so I thank him also for his ongoing support.

“Tweed River Art Gallery’s standing as one of Australia’s leading regional galleries will be further enhanced by the centre, which will include many treasured pieces by the iconic artist.”

The Margaret Olley Art Trust announced in November last year that the late Australian artist had bequeathed $1 million to establish a re-creation of her studio and elements of her home and wanted it built in the Tweed, where she spent time as a child.

Later that month, the Member for Richmond, Justine Elliot, announced that the Australian Government granted an additional $1 million to go towards the project.

“Without these funding sources, this project would not exist, so I once again acknowledge the donations from the Margaret Olley Art Trust, the NSW Government and the Australian Government,” Councillor Longland said.

A development application for the project is currently being assessed by Tweed Shire Council.

Tweed River Art Gallery’s support group, the Friends of the Gallery, have engaged council’s former Senior Museum Curator Sally Watterson to document, assess and catalogue the contents of Margaret’s house in Paddington in Sydney.

The Friends have committed $80,000 to the Margaret Olley Art Centre project, while the Tweed River Art Gallery Foundation will contribute a further $350,000.

The Margaret Olley Art Centre will include re-creations of three of the rooms in Margaret’s famous home, including the Hat Factory, and the Yellow Room, where she spent many hours painting. These two rooms are depicted in many of her pictures.

Some of the artefacts from Margaret’s home have already found their way to Murwillumbah where they are held in storage in anticipation of the completion of the new centre, which is expected by the middle to late 2013.

The final designs for the Margaret Olley Art Centre will be unveiled at an event at the Gallery on 26 October, hosted by the Tweed River Art Gallery Foundation and the Friends of the Tweed River Art Gallery.

PICTURE: Admiring Margaret Olley works in the Tweed River Art Gallery collection are (from left) Mayor of Tweed, Councillor Barry Longland, Member for Lismore, Thomas George, president of the Friends of the Tweed River Art Gallery, Lyn Stewart, and the NSW Minister for the Arts, George Souris.