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Research Trip to Uncover Stories of Synergy in Art and Life

Margaret Olley Art Centre’s Curator has been awarded a prestigiuous travel grant to France to research a friend and colleague of Margaret Olley, expatriate Australian painter, Fred Jessup.
Ingrid Hedgcock – who is also Collections Manager at Tweed Regional Gallery – has been awarded a 2018 Darling Travel Grant Global, by the Gordon Darling Foundation. This extraordinary and generous program provides arts professionals, in public institutions, with the opportunity to undertake international travel, for specific projects, that will deliver benefits for both the individual and the institution.
The Gordon Darling Foundation allocates the travel grants through an open and competitive selection procedure, with a limited number of grants available.
Ms Hedgcock secured a grant to travel to Paris and Espondeilhan in the south of France next month to continue her research on expatriate Australian painter Fred Jessup (1920 – 2007). The research will culminate in an exhibition at the Margaret Olley Art Centre regarding the lifelong friendship and creative connection between Margaret Olley and Fred Jessup.
The two painters, both of which dedicated themselves to the genre of still life in their later years, first met in Sydney in the early 1940s. They each travelled to Europe in the late 1940s spending time together in Paris and the south of France. Olley returned to Australia in 1953 but Jessup was never to return to Australia permanently. Instead he moved Espondeilhan in the mid-1950s and enjoyed a career as a painter. He returned to Australia on only a few occasions during which he would spend time with Olley painting along the Tweed coast as they travelled between Sydney and Brisbane.
“Olley and Jessup were dear, lifelong friends despite the geographical distance between them,” Ms Hedgcock said.
“I had long been fascinated by the stories of friendship between Olley and Jessup. Then, about three years ago, I discovered that Jessup’s home studio in Espondeilhan remained unchanged since his death in 2007. Coincidently, one of Jessup’s dear friends, who once resided in Espondeilhan, now lives here in Murwillumbah. Her passion, matched by that of Jessup’s family, to tell his story in Australia, has been a great source of inspiration for me to persevere with this project.”
“I had seen photographs of Jessup’s home studio that Olley had taken when she visited him decades ago, so of course I was intrigued to see what remained,” she said.
Photographs of Jessup’s home studio, as it remains even today, revealed a startling synergy to Olley’s home studio re-creation at the Tweed Regional Gallery.
“I felt it was vital to visit and document this space, before it is lost to decay. With research time there I will be able to focus in on the details of the space – looking through photograph albums and letters, for example, from Olley to Jessup,” Ms Hedgecock said.
Another important aspect of this project is the involvement of renowned Australian photographer, Greg Weight. The Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation has provided funds to enable Weight to travel to Espondeilhan to photograph Jessup’s home studio. Weight was a long-time friend of Olley’s, photographing her in her home studio many times.
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