Margaret Preston: Recipes for Food and Art

mup-margaret-preston-recipes-for-food-and-art-editorialA new look at one of Australia’s most renowned artists through her art, cooking and ground-breaking approach to creative life, Margaret Preston: Recipes for Food and Art is a fully illustrated book, packed with recipes from the artist’s personal collection.

Celebrated for her vibrant and distinctive pictures of indigenous flowers, artist Margaret Preston was an equally colourful and outspoken personality. Less well known is her legacy as a generous and insightful teacher and keen cook, and her deep sense of civic duty.

She was passionate about the need for a modern national culture that reflected everyday life. For Preston, the building blocks of such a culture were not to be found in the Australian pastoral landscape tradition, but in the home and garden.

Maintaining that art should be within everyone’s reach, she published widely on the methods and techniques of a host of creative 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, depicting humble domestic objects and flowers from her garden, and often painting in the kitchen while keeping ‘one eye on the stew’.

Drawing on recipes from handwritten books found in the National Gallery of Australia, and richly illustrated with Preston’s paintings, prints and photographs, this book sheds new light on the fascinating private life of a much-loved Australian artist.

“The idea for this book has been simmering since I saw Margaret Preston’s charming volume of handwritten recipes tucked away in a solander box full of her prints at the National Gallery of Australia,” said Author Lesley Harding. “That was well over a decade ago, and the viewing a chance aside during some research for another project.”

“But there was something about this glimpse into the personal life of Preston, one of Australia’s most celebrated and beloved artists, that registered the modest compilation as something worth further consideration at a later date.”

Lesley Harding is a curator at Heide Museum of Modern Art. She has written several books on Australian art and social history, including Cubism & Australian Art (with Sue Cramer), Sunday’s Kitchen: Food and Living at Heide, Sunday’s Garden: Growing Heide and Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed (all with Kendrah Morgan).

Margaret Preston: Recipes for Food and Art is published by Melbourne University Press (Miegunyah Press Imprint). For more information, visit: for details

Image: Margaret Preston: Recipes for Food and Art