Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11am-5pm

Watson Road

Observatory Hill (The Rocks)

Margo Lewers retrospective

  • This event finished on 15 September 2002

27 July – 15 September 2002

This retrospective exhibition is the first opportunity since the death of Margo Lewers in 1978, to assess her career in the context of the renewed interest in modernism and expressionism. Apart from two important survey exhibitions examining abstract expressionism in Sydney – Abstract Expressionism in Sydney 1956-1964 at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery in 1980, curated by Peter Pinson and New Directions 1952-1962 at the Lewers Bequest Gallery in 1991, curated by Christine France – Lewers’ work has not been presented in any meaningful context for some years. That is until now.

Lewers embraced the modernist spirit through her approach across many genres and media, and was one of the leading figures in the arts scene during this period that heralded change. Her involvement with the Contemporary Art Society demonstrated a commitment to the visual arts, which she  extolled the necessity for modernist ideology within the wider social context. She linked many of the most creative people in the arts in Sydney and these connections were essential to the formation of an Australian cultural identity, which Lewers’ championed. She sought to expand the tenets of modernism and, with  other progressive thinkers, was a catalyst for change tochallenge the prevailing conservative environment.

Margo Lewers(1908 -1978) was one of Australia’s most outstanding female artists working in the abstract genre at a time when fierce battles raged between abstract and representational art. She was a founding member of the Contemporary Art Society and a pioneer of the abstract expressionist movement in Australia during the 1950s and 1960s. This comprehensive exhibition examined the oeuvre of Margo Lewers  a pioneer of the abstract expressionist movement and dynamic artist who responded intuitively to art and is renowned for her innovative and colourful works of art. The exhibition features 79 works, including paintings, works on paper, ceramics, a large commissioned tapestry, perspex constructions and a captivating installation of wall hangings. Curated by Pamela Bell. Supported by NSW Ministry for the Arts and the Gordon Darling Foundation.

Toured to Orange Regional Gallery;Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra & Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest


Sunday 4 August – Respected historian and curator of the exhibition, Pamela Bell, will discuss the art of Margo Lewers and the significance of this retrospective exhibition.

Sunday 11 August – Darani Lewers & Tanya Crothers, will share their memories of their mother and provide insight into the creative world in which they were raised.

Sunday 18 August – Judy Cassab, acclaimed artist and author, exhibited and studied alongside Margo Lewers and many other significant artists of this period. She will recall her memories of this time and also discuss her Archibald Prize winning portrait of Margo.

Sunday 25 August – Patricia R. McDonald, curator, will speak on artists’ homes as extensions of their creative environments, with particular reference to the Norman Lindsay Gallery, Springwood. Dr Ian Cornford, lecturer and writer, will discuss Margo’s close colleagues and friends, Margel and Frank Hinder.

Sunday 1 September – Margo’s garden at Emu Plains was an outlet for her creativity. Her daughters, Darani Lewers and Tanya Crothers, will discuss the history of the garden, design elements and Margo’s vision for her property with the landscape architect, Michael Lehaney.

Sunday 8 September – Who were the men who taught Margo and introduced many others to the principles of Modernism? Mike Rubbo will discuss his grandfather, Antonio Dattilo Rubbo. Susan Braham will discuss Desiderius Orban.

Sunday 15 September – Artists, Mirabel FitzGerald and Mark Ward will discuss working and living alongside Margo Lewers. Margaret Tuckson, wife of the abstract artist Tony Tuckson (1921-1973), will recall their friendship with the Lewers.