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An image of Banksia cobs by Margaret Preston

Margaret Preston

(Australia, England, France 29 Apr 1875 – 28 May 1963)

Banksia cobs
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

45.8 x 53.2 cm stretcher; 66.0 x 57.5 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. corner, pencil "M.P. 33".
Gift of Mr Howard Sherrard 1982
Accession number
© Margaret Rose Preston Estate
Not on display
Further information

'Australian artists must feel inherently the difference between their land and that of others ... the tremendous difference in our flowers ... so our treatment of our flora must be different. If it isn't then it is merely copy and repetition.'
Margaret Preston, early 1940s

During the 1930s, Margaret Preston spent time living in bushland at Berowra, in the Hawkesbury River region, where she refined her perceptions of the land and investigated the natural world. 'Banksia cobs' emanates from this period and represents what Preston believed to be a more authentic engagement with the essential forms of the environment. Set within a shallow representational space, the painting depicts the centralised weight of banksia cobs and spiky leathery leaves with a restrained palette aligned to the colder, more sombre ranges of certain Australian plants. With its blackened forms, the painting suggests a recent fire in the region, and demonstrates the endurance and regeneration of Australia’s indigenous plant life.

Bibliography (8)

Elizabeth Butel, Margaret Preston: the art of constant rearrangement, Ringwood, 1985, 39-40, 45, 86. O.11

Roger Arthur Butler, The prints of Margaret Preston: a catalogue raisonné, Canberra, 2005, 177 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Margaret Preston, 'Berowra 1930s', pg.151-172, Sydney, 2005, 151, 150 (colour illus.), 154, 253, 260, 261, 260.

Deborah Edwards and Rose Peel, Margaret Preston: Catalogue raisonné of paintings, monotypes and ceramics, Sydney, 2005, (colour illus.). Artworks: paintings 1933.

Humphrey McQueen, The black swan of trespass: the emergence of Modernist painting in Australia to 1944, Sydney, 1979, 148, 153.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Margaret Preston and William Dobell loan exhibition, Sydney, 1942. 35

Ian North, The art of Margaret Preston, South Australia, 1980, 8.

Society of Artists, Society of Artists Annual Exhibition, Sydney, 1933. 145

Exhibition history (5)

Society of Artists Annual Exhibition (1933), Education Department Gallery [Loftus Street], Sydney, 08 Sep 1933–06 Oct 1933

Margaret Preston and William Dobell loan exhibition (1942), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Mar 1942–16 Apr 1942

Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000

Margaret Preston retrospective:

Still life, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Jul 2013–23 Apr 2014