Biography

BORN in Adelaide, South Australia. As a very young child Margaret developed a strong rapport and connection with animals whilst living on the family market garden at Paradise. She holds fond and emotional memories not only for the pets but also the working animals on the garden. These animals were supreme teachers in lessons of love, loss and companionship. A quiet life where Margaret began creating her own world of stories/books and illustrations.

Margaret attended and completed her education at Gilles Plains, St. Morris Primary and Norwood High School. 

As life dictated in the 1970’s Margaret began employment in the Commonwealth Public Service and continued for 10 years in various secretarial /stenographer and office roles which also allowed her to work in London as a temp in between travelling. 

 Whilst Margaret has no formal qualifications in art she studied for 10 years working in oils, acrylics, pastels and sketching with several professional artists in Adelaide. She attended evening and weekend classes, painting trips to country locations, local outdoor sketching groups, photography trips to gather information (and correspondence courses) and participated in amateur exhibitions -   whilst engaged in full time employment. “These highly respected practising artists taught with great passion and generosity – passing on their own valuable and practical skills. I found something to be gained from each lesson - techniques, tips, critiques or just practice in a quiet environment with like-minded adult students. The classes mainly were aimed at teaching landscape, portraiture and still life painting techniques. Whilst on many occasions I was the only teenager or young adult in class – or one of very few – I found the adult learning environment motivating and the students extremely focused. Their love of painting was evident. I felt privileged to exhibit with them in numerous exhibitions. Attending classes gave me a strong and solid grounding in the fundamentals of traditional oil painting (and later – acrylics and pastels) from artists I admired. All had worked hard and forged long standing careers as full-time artists and exhibitors. Great role models. Very special memories of Ingrid Erns a noted Adelaide Latvian-born artist/teacher who had studied in Latvia and Paris – her humility and passion for her art – an admirable work ethic which I have never forgotten.  I loved our peaceful Monday evening classes - sketching and painting portrait models in pastels.  The classes were instrumental in fine tuning my observational skills and I appreciated Ingrid’s gentle encouragement and guidance. Ingrid’s astute observation and skill permitted nothing to be overlooked.”

A year travelling throughout Europe and working in London being a wonderful opportunity for a young amateur painter to visit the world’s galleries and further the creative passion. As a member and student of a local Adelaide art group – Margaret began exhibiting and selling her artworks on a regular basis at 17 years old. This led to exhibiting at the prestigious Barry Newton Gallery at Unley, South Australia and being offered a solo exhibition in her mid 20’s. She continued to exhibit extensively in Adelaide’s most highly regarded galleries. 

Nominated and awarded a Fellowship with the Royal SA Society of Arts in 1987 and in 2018 awarded Full Membership of the Society of Feline Artists (London).  The recipient of many awards in South Australia. Works in both private and public collections.

In 1981 - Invited to teach at the Department of Adult Education, Brighton Community adult education) – after completing her studies. (Margaret remained a teacher with TAFE for over 20 years). Within the first year of teaching further invitations were extended to teach in many other venues, including art groups - culminating in teaching/tutoring and painting full-time.   

She is currently tutoring at Gallery One Mitcham, Pepper Street Arts Centre and sharing a teaching studio at Artland Picture Framers, Clovelly Park with her husband. Margaret exhibits regularly and accepts some commission work.   

Margaret’s art is both colourful and distinctive and often portrays her own cats.  “My art is very personal and creative - I hope uplifting – a reflection of life with my own cats/dogs.  I love colour and I find the cats’ real life stories very interesting and moving – quite often tinged with some sadness. It is their time to be noticed and appreciated. To me they are legendary - animals are very brave and stoic. They are my inspiration every day and mainly my reason for painting. I am pleased if I can make someone consider a cat more deeply than they have ever before – especially the “non-cat people”.

A dedicated supporter of animal rescue in Adelaide. Margaret is married to well-known South Australian artist Arthur Phillips.  They share a large menagerie of moggie rescues and Siamese/Oriental and dogs.    

© Copyright Margaret Slape-Phillips 2020