Author(s): Lesley Harding
Celebrated for her vibrant, distinctive pictures of indigenous flowers, Margaret Preston was an equally colourful and outspoken personality. She was passionate about the need for a modern national culture that reflected local conditions and vernacular qualities. For Preston, the building blocks of such a culture was not to be found in the pastoral landscape tradition of Australian art, but instead in the home. Maintaining that art was an integral part of everyday life and that is should be within the reach of everyone, she published widely on the methods and techniques of a host of artistic pursuits, from pottery, printmaking and basket weaving to the gentle art of flower arranging. She devoted much of her career to the genre of still life:her aesthetic laboratory table:using humble domestic objects and often painting in the kitchen while keeping 'one eye on the stew'. Richly illustrated with Preston's art, photographs and her recipes:for food, art and interior dUcor:this book sheds new light on the private life of much-loved public figure.
Lesley Harding joined Heide Museum of Modern Art as curator in 2005. She has held curatorial positions at the Arts Centre, Melbourne and National Art School, Sydney, and regularly publishes and lectures on modernist and contemporary Australian art. Her work has appeared in Art and Australia, Art Monthly Australia, Artlink and Meanjin, and in 2009 she co-authored Cubism Australian Art with Sue Cramer, for the Miegunyah Press imprint of Melbourne University Publishing.