Margaret Norris

1) Introduction & biography

2) Working methods & background: Paintings

3) Working methods & background: Photograms

4) CV


Norris’ colourful abstract paintings are based on natural phenomena: landscape, and cellular structures. Her interest lies in macroscopic versus microscopic duality. Her paintings use light and colour to enhance natural structures from the world around us. The source material for these unique images is quite diverse and may be anything from electron microscopy, optical & thermal imaging or the growth structures created by micro-organisms. The scale of such cellular activity is magnified to massive proportions such that the final paintings can measure up to two metres squared. The activity then becomes intensely dramatic in colour and gesture, the forms cascade through their picture planes which remain flat and yet all encompassing, reminiscent of colour field painting. Alongside her paintings, Margaret makes photograms (unique photographs with no negative involved) as a result of her research into the visual effects created by growing micro-organisms on photographic paper. The treated paper is used to grow the microbes in the same way as a petri dish containing nutrients is used in laboratories to develop cultures. These photograms form beautiful works in their own right as well as providing the source material for the inception of larger painted works.

Brief biography:

Margaret Norris studied painting privately in Sydney, Australia with Betty Morgan from 1983 to 1987. She continued to paint and study while living in the United States 1987-1989. Margaret lived in London for seven years (1993-2000). During this time she completed a certificate in art & design at the City Literary Institute and then went on to complete a BA (hons) degree in fine art (the University of the Arts London – Byam Shaw campus). Margaret returned home in 2000 & lives at Dural in Sydney, Australia. Her work is held in private collections in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia & New Zealand.

Working Methods – Paintings:

The seemingly abstract images are actually based on naturally occurring forms found in the environment. Margaret draws inspiration from many diverse sources: the landscape as we know it and what the Artist refers to as ‘the secret or hidden landscape’, cellular structures which can only be accessed through the use of new technologies, such as electron microscopy or optical & thermal imaging. Surface, colour & light are vital considerations in the evolution of these unique paintings. To achieve the colour and luminosity she desires, the Artist becomes alchemist, grinding natural ochre and pigments into diverse media in order to produce glowing pigmented glazes. The resultant paint is then layered onto the canvas over a period, building intriguing images, rich in surface and translucency

Working methods – Photograms:

A photogram is a unique photograph produced entirely in the darkroom. There is no camera or negative involved. The photograms followed on from the Artist’s interest and research into nature & science for her paintings. In turn, the photograms have enriched and informed her paintings. Margaret conducted experimentation into the visual effects produced by growing micro-organisms directly on treated paper in the same way as a Petri dish containing nutrients is used in scientific laboratories to develop cultures. The unique & visually stunning images are a result of these natural phenomena The artist alludes to the creation process when she entitled this series of photograms ‘microbes exposed’. The microbes quietly interacted with the nutrients contained in the photographic emulsion for some time in complete darkness, until being subjected to an explosive microsecond of light, prior to undergoing the usual photographic colour processing in the dark room to preserve the image.


Margaret V. Norris

Art Education:

  • 1996-1999 Byam Shaw School of Art BA (Hons.) Degree in Fine Art [University of the Arts, London]
  • 1995-1996 City Literary Institute London Certificate Art & Design [Middlesex University]
  • 1995 Commenced full time education in art as a mature student following a career in business administration
  • 1993-1994 Chelsea & Westminster Adult Education, London Painting classes
  • 1989-1992 Ku-Ring-Gai Art Centre Drawing, Painting and Ceramic classes Sydney, Australia
  • 1987-1989 North Lake College, Dallas, Texas, USA Drawing & Painting classes
  • 1983-1987 Private tuition with Betty Morgan who was a well-known portrait artist and teacher in Sydney, Australia

Selected solo & group exhibitions:

  • 2014 Northern Expressions Group Exhibition – Warringah Creative Space, Curl Curl
  • 2012 Northern Expressions Group Exhibition – Gallery Lane Cove
  • 2012 Annual Hunter’s Hill Art Exhibition Sydney, Australia
  • 2011 Northern Expressions Group Exhibition – Parliament House Sydney
  • 2011 Hornsby Art Prize
  • 2009 Northern Expressions Group Exhibition – Parliament House, Sydney
  • 2006 – 2010 Ku-Ring-Gai Art Society Group Exhibitions
  • 2005 Ku-Ring-Gai Art Society Group Exhibition
  • 2004 Ku-Ring-Gai Art Society Group Exhibition
  • 2003 Finalist 52nd Blake Prize, Sydney, Australia
  • 2003 TAP Gallery, “Real Refusés”, Sydney, Australia
  • 2003 TAP Gallery, Group Exhibition, Sydney, Australia
  • 2003 Annual Hunter’s Hill Art Exhibition, Sydney, Australia
  • 2001 Solo Exhibition, Alta Gallery, Sydney, Australia
  • 2000 Solo Exhibition, Zella Gallery, London
  • 1999 Fenton Art Trust, Recent Graduates, London
  • 1999 Degree Graduation Show Byam Shaw School of Art – University of the Arts London
  • 1999 Chelsea Art Society Open Exhibition, London
  • 1999 Concourse Gallery, Archway, London
  • 1999 Halfway to Highgate, Waterlow Park, London
  • 1998 Concourse Gallery, Byam Shaw School of Art, London
  • 1998 Chelsea Art Society, Open Exhibition, Chelsea, London
  • 1997 Gone, Concourse Gallery, London
  • 1996 Graduation Show, Art & Design Certificate, City Literary Institute, London
  • 1995 Group show, City Literary Institute, Fleet Street, London
  • 1992 Annual exhibition, Ku-Ring-Gai Art Gallery, Roseville, Sydney, Australia
  • 1991 Annual exhibition, Ku-Ring-Gai Art Gallery, Roseville, Sydney, Australia
  • 1990 Ku-Ring-Gai Art Gallery, Roseville, Sydney, Australia
  • 1989 Ku-Ring-Gai Art Gallery, Roseville, Sydney, Australia
  • 1988 Irving Art Society Group Exhibition, Dallas, Texas, USA
  • 1987 Irving Art Society Group Exhibition, Dallas, Texas, USA
  • 1986 Narrabri Open Art Exhibition, Narrabri, Australia

Works held in Private Collections in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.