Australian Art

MARGOT KNOX

Margot Knox
Margot Knox

AKA: Margot Edwards

Born: 1931 Melbourne
  • Painter


Margot's paternal grandfather Tasmanian born James Hobart Edwards used to teach horses to perform and-prance when it was practice to use them for stage performances.
Margot never knew him but heard about him all during her childhood. "The stories were fantastic", the images embedded in her mind. The love of horses carried through to her father Cliff which in turn again influenced Margot. "He and I were the ones that were obsessed about horses and that was our great bond."

Margot is the youngest of three children born to Clifford Edwards (Cliff) and Dorothy Field (Peg). She has an older brother and sister.

Peg was city born and bred, but didn't mind turning her hand to all manner of labour: "She worked like a man - had a great sense of humour - great raconteur - she was fantastic."

Cliff a farmer was also a stock and station agent who had been lucky enough to return from the first world war. He was a gregarious, attractive man who enjoyed his grog.

Cliff and Peg took up a soldier settlement in the Mallee, not long after moving in Bacchus Marsh and finally settling at Berwick from where Margotís earliest memories stem.
There were no direct artistic influences as such, however "Peg was one of those amazing women who did everything well and with tremendous flair". The marriage waned in later life and finally Peg left Cliff at the age of sixty for what she perceived was a drink problem. Out of loyalty to her mother Margot lost the close association she had with her father and reflects "a day doesn't go past without me thinking of the sadness of loo sing touch with him". Peg moved in with Margot and her family and was there until she died. It was a happy association and the Knox children grew up on a diet of early farming stories.
Those memories are now the subject matter of Margot's naive style paintings.
Margot attended the Dandenong State School commencing her secondary years at St. Margaret's in Berwick.
She enrolled at R.M.I.T. to do "something in occupational therapy". She hated it. She had a go at sculpture but didn't continue. In the lift at the National Gallery sometime during that period she met Matcham Skipper and from there sprung a friendship that was to totally change her life. Through him she met John Percival who found her some work at the Boyd Pottery at Murrumbeena where she worked about 12 months. Neil Douglas and John were the working potters at the time. There was an attempt to make commercial goods as well and cups and saucers were being produced for "Primrose Cottage".
Margot moved to Ivanhoe in a loft and her kindly landlady a Mrs.
Anderson got her work with Ellis (Rocky) Stones a well known gardener of the time. Ellis Stones had gained his experience from working with Edna Walling and later became recognized in his own right, Margot under his guidance became an expert stone worker, and also gained herself an excellent reputation. Amongst her new friends and loving her work, Margot felt she had found her niche in life.

She met Alistair Knox at a party at the skipper's home. Married though separated Alistair was just beginning to build his first mud brick homes. Margot loved the earth homes and when he offered her work to lay the stone floors she very willingly accepted.
Margot's career was going from strength to strength with both Knox and Stones employing her. She moved to Eltham, first living in a tram car and then moving to a cottage with absolutely no facilities.
To have women working on building sites was pretty much unheard of but both Knox and Stones preferred them. Knox was later to have a female foreman.
Margot and Alistair became full time companions, Margot's mother, though never voicing full disapproval did express her concerns as Alistair Knox was twenty years Margotís senior.
The matter was compounded by Alistairís first wife who refused to divorce him. In due course Hamish was born and when he was about 6 months old Alistairís first wife was killed in an accident. Overnight Margotís household grew from three to six, when Alistair's children came to live. Margot was 22. Margot kept working when she could as the supplementary monies were badly needed. They married in 1953.
Margot started painting seriously when Hamish was about three.
Alistair and Margot had four more children - McGregor - Alistair Alexander and Sophie Louise. Despite the work involved with the family Margot still managed to paint and in the early sixties had her first exhibition at The Australian Galleries in Collingwood. She also exhibited at the Princess Hill Gallery.
Margot never again used a commercial Gallery. She exhibited from the Knox House in Mount Pleasant Road, Eltham at least half a dozen times. I first saw her Noah paintings and I couldn't help but see the Boyd influence, and that was well over a decade ago.

The last two exhibitions she's had were the "Dunera Boys" with the University of Melbourne purchasing one, and the "Lighthorse" series from which the Canberra War Memorial purchased another.
These were shown at her inner Melbourne home.
Margot usually paints with a theme in mind and there have been the Walhalla Series, Wonnogatta Series, Noah Paintings. Her paintings began as landscapes then they became landscapes with characters appearing in them and now they have evolved to what Margot terms portraits in landscapes.

She is using a very different technique bringing about very different results. No longer can I say that I see an influence. Margot Knox has found herself.
She is determined and passionate about her work, and all those wonderful early farming stories and grandpa Edwardsís horses are manifesting themselves into the very individual works of Margot Knox.


Source: Interview by Willi Carney 14th May 1992.



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