About Olive Pink

Chronology Making a living in Alice Springs
Olive Pink’s art education Establishing the Olive Pink Botanic Garden
Visit to Ooldea to stay with Daisy Bates Miss Pink's Trees
Sketching tour to Central Australia Olive Pink’s letters
Friendship with Albert Namatjira Olive Pink’s death


Olive Muriel Pink (1884 – 1975)
artist, Aboriginal rights activist, anthropologist and gardener.

Olive Pink Portrait
Olive Pink - enlarge
Courtesy of Olive Pink Botanic Garden collection.

1884 born on 17 March in Hobart. Educated at Miss Ayton’s School in Brisbane Street, Hobart and then at the Girls High School . She kept in touch with her first headmistress, Miss Sarah Walker and was influenced by her Quaker philosophy for the rest of her life.

1899 studied art at Hobart Technical School with sculptor Benjamin Sheppard.

1907 exhibited four pictures in the annual exhibition of the Tasmanian Art Society. Her father died and she started giving private art lessons.

1909 joined Hobart Technical School as a teacher.

1911 moved to Perth WA. and gave private art lessons.

1914 moved to Sydney and qualified for a Town Planning Diploma

1915 employed as a tracer by NSW Government Railways and Tramways until retrenched during the depression. Attended classes at Julian Ashton’s Sydney Art School during this period.

1926 – 27 visited Daisy Bates at her camp at Ooldea, South Australia sketching and had first experience of aboriginal culture

1930 embarked on sketching tour of Central Australia and further investigation of how aboriginal people lived.

1932 studied anthropology at University of Sydney.

1933-1936 received grants from ANRC to visit Northern Territory and carry out research into the Arrernte and Warlpiri people. Met Albert Namatjira and purchased two early paintings.

1942 returned to Alice Springs where she attempted to set up a ‘secular sancturary’ for the Warlpiri people from which police, government and missions would be excluded. Settled at Thompsons Rockhole where she camped for four years and continued her research.

1946 moved back to Alice Springs where she survived by selling fruit and flowers, cleaning the courthouse where she monitored aboriginal court cases and exhibiting her wildflower paintings for a small admission fee.

1956 – 1958 lived in a tent outside Alice Springs and lobbied to have a small area of land turned into an arid flora reserve. This was granted in 1956 and she was made honorary curator.

1958 - 1975 now known as the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, she lived and worked here until her death on 6 July 1975.

olive Pink at the Reserve
Olive Pink at the Australian Arid Regions Native Flora Reserve
(now the Olive Pink Botanic Garden).
Photo: courtesy of Olive Pink Botanic Garden

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Last updated 9 May, 2007