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Australian art

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Implement blue



Margaret Preston

Australia, England, France

29 Apr 1875 - 28 May 1963


She feels that this is a mechanical age - a scientific one - highly civilised and unaesthetic. She knows that the time has come to express her surroundings in her work. All around her in the simple domestic life is machinery - patent ice-chests that need no ice, machinery does it; irons heated by invisible heat; washing up machines; electric sweepers, and so on. They all surround her and influence her mind …

Margaret Preston, 1927

'Implement blue' is one of Margaret Preston's most innovative works, embodying the values of progressive, modern living. Its restricted palette and strict analysis of form exemplify Preston's quest to isolate and resolve pictorial problems within the still-life genre. The domestic vessels have been renamed 'implements' and reduced to essential forms.



Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on hardboard


42.5 x 43.0 cm board; 58.3 x 59.0 x 4.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, blue oil "M.PRESTON/ 27".


Gift of the artist 1960

Accession number


Artist information

Margaret Preston

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 13 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 61 publications


Art Gallery of South Australia, Visions after light: Art in South Australia 1836-1981, Adelaide, 1981. 138; not paginated

Art Society of Tasmania, 44th Annual Exhibition of pictures, Hobart, 1928. 139; not paginated; priced at 20 guineas

Alison Broinowski, The yellow lady: Australian impressions of Asia, Australia, 1992, 55, 55 (illus.).

Elizabeth Butel, Margaret Preston: the art of constant rearrangement, Ringwood, 1985, 38 (colour illus.), 85. O.7

Roger Arthur Butler, The prints of Margaret Preston: a catalogue raisonné, Canberra, 2005, 23, 198 (colour illus.).

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 92 (colour illus.).

Katrina Cashman., Margaret Preston in Mosman, 'Margaret Preston in Mosman', Mosman, 2002, (colour illus.). no catalogue numbers; not paginated

Gary Catalano, Art and Australia (Vol. 21, No. 1), 'About the house: the domestic theme in Australian art', Sydney, Spring 1983, (illus.). not paginated

Patrick Cavanagh, Nature, 'The artist as neuroscientist', pg. 301-307, London, 17 Mar 2005, 304 (colour illus.).

Chris Deutscher, Australian modern masters and 19th & 20th century Australian and International Fine Art: Fine Art auction 3 & 4 May 2000, Melbourne, 2000, 98. reference to work in association with lot 61 'Australian gum blossom' painted in 1929; colour illus. of lot 61 on pg. 99

Susanna de Vries, The complete book of great Australian women: thirty-six women who changed the course of Australia, 'Margaret Rose Preston', pg. 547-563, Pymble, 2003, 556.

Jackie de Diana, Look, 'Art and Australia: More views of European preludes and parallels', pg. 16-17, Sydney, Nov 2010, 12 (colour illus.).

Mary Eagle, Australian Modern Painting Between the Wars 1914-1939, 'Recall to order', pg. 78-91, Sydney, 1989, 81, 83 (colour illus.), 84. plate no. 59

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 118 (colour illus.), 301.

Deborah Edwards and Rose Peel, Margaret Preston: Catalogue raisonné of paintings, monotypes and ceramics, Sydney, 2005, (colour illus.). Artworks: paintings 1927.

Juliana Engberg (Curator), The Real Thing, Australia, 1997, 26 (colour illus.), 88.

Sarah Engledow', The world of Thea Proctor, 'The world of Thea Proctor', pg. 16-84, Canberra, 2005, 50.

Lesley Harding, Cubism & Australian art, 'L'Esprit Nouveau 1913-1929', pg. 19-47, Melbourne, 2009, 29 (colour illus.).

Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A distinctive vision', pg. 26-55, Canberra, 2005, 36, 103.

John Healey (Editor), S.A.'s greats: the men and women of the North Terrace plaques, 'Margaret Presont (1875-1963), Artist', pg. 106, Kent Town, 2001, 106.

Jeanette Hoorn (Editor), Strange women: essays in art and gender, Melbourne, 1994, 36-37, 38 (colour illus.).

Robert Hughes, The art of Australia, Melbourne, 1970, 123 (illus.). 46

Lois Hunter, The Australian art companion - A selection of influential artists, 'Margaret Preston', pg. 38-39, Balgowlah Heights, (1990), 39 (colour illus.).

Jane Hylton, Modern Australian women: paintings & prints 1925-1945, 'Modern Australian women', pg. 15-27, Adelaide, 2000, 22, 23 (colour illus.), 67, 125.

Glenis Israel, Artwise: visual art 7-10, 'Chapter 5: Human-made: Structures and Objects', pg. 153-200, Milton, 2013, 176 (colour illus.), 177-178..

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 138 (colour illus.).

Rosemary Lloyd, Shimmering in a transformed light: writing the still life, 'Looking in, looking out: objects in the mirror', pg. 114-132, Ithaca, 2005, front cover (illus.), 5, 128 (illus.), 129. figure no. 14

Rosemary Lloyd, Yearbook of comparative and general literature [Vol. 49, 2001], 'Objects in the mirror: gendering the still life', pg. 39-55, Bloomington, 2002, 47, 54 (illus.).

John McDonald, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Margaret Preston', pg. 16-27, Sydney, 2000, 23 (colour illus.).

Humphrey McQueen, Hemisphere [vol. 20, no. 8], 'An enemy of dull', pg. 34-39, Australian Capital Territory, 1976, 34 (colour illus.).

Hal Missingham (Editor), 1960 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1960, 24. 31

Hal Missingham, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Acquisitions for 1960', pg. 58-67, Sydney, Apr 1961, 65 (illus.).

Drusilla Modjeska, Stravinsky's lunch, Sydney, 1999, 264, 265 (illus.).

William Moore, Daily telegraph, 'Contemporary painters' show has originality', pg. 13, Sydney, 01 Dec 1929, 13.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Margaret Preston and William Dobell loan exhibition, Sydney, 1942, 9. 34

National Gallery of South Australia, Modern Australian women: paintings and prints 1925-1945, Adelaide, 2000, (colour illus.). not paginated; 6-page fold-out brochure accompanying the exhibition

Ian North, The art of Margaret Preston, South Australia, 1980, 21 (colour illus.), 47 (illus.). O.19

Barry Pearce, Margaret Preston, 'Implement Blue', pg. 122, Sydney, 2005, 54, 108, 118, 120-121, 122, 124, 128, 123 (colour illus.), 6 (colour illus., detail),.

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 24 (illus.).

Georgina Pemberton, H&H: Hoofs & horns, 'Portrait of a lady', pg. 128-129, Neutral Bay, Autumn 2005, 128, 129 (colour illus.).

Ann Proudfoot, An expanded view: the Mary Turner Collection at Orange Regional Gallery, 'An expanded view', pg. 5-23, Orange, 2011, 17.

Ursula Prunster, Seeing is believing: the art in photography, 'Art Deco & Modernism', Sydney, 1985, colour illus.. 37; not paginated

Ursula Prunster, Aspects of Australian art, Sydney, 2000, (colour illus.). card no. 5: Margaret Preston 'Implement blue' 1927

John Saxby, Sydney Morning Herald, no 15348, 'A window opens on new stories about building the collection', pg. 26-28, Sydney, 04 Jun 1887, 26.

Andrew Sayers, Australian art, 'Order and transcendence: art between the wars 1919-39', pg. 120-139, Oxford, 2001, 120 (colour illus., detail), 127 (colour illus.). plate no. 70

Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, South Melbourne, 1991, 208 (colour illus.). 117

Bernard William Smith, The formalesque: a guide to modern art and its history, South Yarra, 2007, 92 (colour illus.).

Terry Smith, Transformations in Australian art: The twentieth century - Modernism and Aboriginality [Volume Two], 'Adopt, adapt, transform! Modernist strategies in Margaret Preston's Still Life, 1927', pg. 47-74, St Leonards, 2002, 48, 49,50, 53 (illus.), 54, 55, 56, 64, 65, 66.

Ann Stephen, Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia, 'Introduction', Sydney, 2008, xxiv (colour illus.), xxv.

Ann Stephen, Art and Australia (Vol. 46, No. 1), 'Defining modernism in Australia', pg. 56-57, Sydney, 2008, 57.

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Breaking the territorial mould: some thoughts from a new head curator', pg. 30-31, Sydney, Sep 2011, 30 (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Foreword', pg. 11-12, Sydney, 2013, 11, 73, 118, 120, 148, 149 (colour illus.), 200, 315, 323.

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia [vol. 9, no. 4], 'Art Deco in Australia', pg. 338-350, Sydney, Mar 1972, 350 (illus.).

Laurie Thomas (Editor), 200 Years of Australian painting, Rushcutters Bay, 1971, 46, 47 (colour illus.).

Helen Topliss, Modernism and Feminism Australian Women Artists 1900-1940, Sydney, 1996, 58 (illus.). Illustration 14

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, 'New Australia', pg. 24-27, Sydney, May 2012, 25.

Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 22], Sydney, Dec 1927, front cover (colour illus.). Margaret Preston number.

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 106 (colour illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 101 (colour illus.).

Author Unknown, South Australian Women Artists: 1890s - 1940s, Apr 1994, 13 (colour illus.), 74 (illus.). fig. 13; cat. no. 68

The Burdekin House Exhibition, Sydney, 1929. not paginated