Helen Ogilvie, painter, printmaker, craftworker and gallery director was born in Corrowa, Australia in 1902 and died in Melbourn in 1993.  From an early age she was encouraged by her mother to draw. The family moved to Melbourne in 1920 and Helen attended the National Gallery School in 1922-25. Influenced by Claude Flight’s Lino-cuts (London, 1927), in the late 1920s she began making linocuts and, a few years later, wood-engravings. She produced many for exhibition, as ex libris plates, for greeting cards, and as illustrations for privately published books such as Russell Grimwade’s Flinders Lane (1947) and J.D.G. Medley’s Stolen and Surreptitious Verses (1952).

In 1949-55 Helen Ogilvie was director of the Peter Bray Gallery in Melbourne. Aiming to show the most exciting contemporary work, she organised exhibitions of such artists as Margo Lewers , Helen Maudsley, John Brack, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman and Ian Fairweather. In 1956 she moved to London where she partly made a living designing and making modern lampshades. She also began to paint the small studies of Australian rural buildings for which she has become best known. In London she had two successful solo exhibitions – one held after she returned to Australia in 1963 – and she participated in several group exhibitions.

Back in Australia, Helen Ogilvie continued to explore the countryside, sketching and painting the humble buildings she admired which she was aware were disappearing. At the end of the 1970s she decided that she had said all she wanted to say in her art and from then on produced little work. Her interest in the art world, however, remained acute until her sudden death in Melbourne on 1 August 1993. The last solo exhibition she was able to attend opened at australian Girls Own Gallery, Canberra, on her 89th birthday, 4 May 1991. From 1990 until her death she shared her memories with the contributor—with generosity, clarity and a delicious sense of humour – for a book of her wood engravings to be published by Officina Brindabella, Canberra.

The four pieces offered were all acquired from the Leicester Galleriies, three from the solo exhibition of her work held there in 1967, the fourth probably at the same time although the gallery had held apparantly held onto it from her first show in 1963.  

Biographical information courtesy of Dr Sheridan Palmer. 


'Houses waiting for demolition'

'Drover's cottage, New South Wales'

'Weatherboard House, Pearcedale'

'Church, Colloroy Station'