Pixie O'Harris - The Forgotten works of Pixie O'Harris

Katherine Kachor_The Wifes Tale web.jpg

Exhibition dates: 23 January - 8 March 2020

Exhibition opening: 25 January, 2pm FREE



Pixie O’Harris (1903 – 1991) - the very name conjures up a world of childhood dreams. Fairies and pixies, children climbing trees, patting animals and playing at the beach, painted by Australian children’s book author and illustrator Pixie O’Harris MBE and her brother Olaf Harris in 1957 to brighten the lives of children in the Manning Hospital, have been brought to light and conserved for all to enjoy.

The 25 works were commissioned by the Manning Base Hospital Ladies Ancillary in 1957, with the community raising 2000 pounds for the project. By this time Pixie O’Harris was an experienced muralist for Hospitals, as she had been commissioned by many hospitals across New South Wales. Inspiration for hospital murals came to Pixie after the birth of her third child in 1939, dispirited by the bleakness of the hospital walls. When she first started painting these murals they were painted directly onto the hospital walls, and all have now been painted over. The Manning Base Hospital collection are painted on boards which has seen them survive the 70 years.

Since 1957 these paintings have remained at the Manning Hospital, although due to changing times and fashions, some had been in storage for many years. Dr Philip Walkom bought the Pixie O’Harris and Olaf Harris works at the Manning Rural Referral Hospital to the Gallery’s attention in 2005. Interest was rekindled in 2017 when Janine Roberts and Penny Teerman rediscovered the paintings and approached Manning Regional Art Gallery to become involved in revitalising public interest in these wonderful works. This exhibition includes the complete collection of the Pixie O’Harris and Olaf Harris paintings that were commissioned by the Ladies Auxiliary of Manning Hospital in 1950’s. We will also shown several works from Fairfield Hospital, who have been generous in their support of this project.

Since announcing the exhibition, the Gallery has had so many calls and emails from around Australia, with people wanting to connect with the works and reminisce about the impact they had on their childhood. The exhibition is family friendly and will engage both the older and younger generations, through nostalgic memories and the discovery of new characters.