20 December 1999

Margaret Olley, one of Australia's most admired and respected artists, will be awarded an honorary degree at one of two University of Queensland graduation ceremonies today Monday, December 15.

Ms Olley, a renowned painter for almost 50 years, will be awarded the Doctor of Letters at the 4pm ceremony at Mayne Hall, St Lucia. Graduands from the Faculty of Arts will attend ceremonies at 4pm and 6.15pm.

While Ms Olley is best-known for painting still lifes and interiors of her own house, a retrospective exhibition of her work in 1997 included highly-regarded landscapes, nudes and self-portraits. She has also been a popular portrait subject for Margaret Cilento, Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend, and her portrait by William Dobell won the 1949 Archibald Prize.

Professor Graeme Turner, Director of The University of Queensland's new Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, will be guest speaker at the 4pm ceremony, while former Queensland Senator and Adjunct Professor in UQ's Department of Government Margaret Reynolds is guest speaker for the 6.15pm ceremony. Valedictorians Hugh Brown and Melissa Johnstone will address students at the 4pm and 6.15pm ceremonies respectively.

Graduates of interest at the ceremonies include the following.

o David de Jersey will become the fifth person in his family to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from UQ. He is preceded by his father, Chief Justice Paul de Jersey (1969), his mother Kaye (1972), and sisters Carolyn (1997) and Alison (1997). David is also the third person in his family to study both Arts and Law. His father graduated LLB (hons) in 1972 and Alison is due to graduate LLB in May. David has just completed his second year of law, and plans to pursue a career as a lawyer.

He said his Arts studies, focusing on government and history, had added a valuable perspective to his study of law. "A lot of people study law and don't know how politics works; they don't understand the implications of things like constitutional law. But when you study government as well, it gives you a perspective," he said. "The Arts degree provided interest and diversity, and because I've always been interested in history, government and humanities subjects it was ideal."

Chief Justice de Jersey said while each family member had pursued different areas of study within Arts, they all "immensely enjoyed" their experience at the University. "UQ, in whatever faculty, is a great place of learning; and our own family feeling for it typifies the fondness felt by its Alumni generally," he said.

o Nearly one million Australians a year sit through school musicals including "Man of Steel", "Bats" and "The Boyfriend" and UQ graduate Dr Paul Collings' (telephone 07 3396 9319 at home or 07 3244 5436 at work) thesis is believed to be the first to explain the enormous popularity of the genre.

"It is estimated that a minimum of 800 Australian secondary schools stage musicals each year and nearly half of these are written by Australians," Dr Collings said. "School musicals represent a significant form of theatre in which 50,000 young people perform each year."

The study examines the reasons why school staff commit themselves to the considerable amount of work and stress associated with a full-scale production and presents historical data on the activities of 241 Queensland secondary schools and the 1904 confirmed productions of 406 different musicals.

The study also looked at the texts of 92 Australian-written musicals and the ways they differed from more traditional products. Dr Collings said his study covered the way irreverence was used by young and often inexperienced teenaged participants in these musicals to protect themselves from the emotional and personal exposures associated with performing in public.

o Scottish involvement in the Moreton Bay district from 1841 until 1859 was the subject of a History Department thesis and book by PhD graduate Dr John Mackenzie-Smith (telephone 07 3268 2349).

His book, Moreton Bay Scots 1841-59, filled the void in Queensland history concerning the contributions to its development made by the Scots before 1860, he said. Available from February 2000, his book includes a foreword by former Queensland Governor Sir Walter Campbell and an examination of Edinburgh and Highland influences on the Scottish pastoral occupation of the Brisbane River Valley.

"The thesis and book also look at Scottish-Aboriginal relations, the Scottish influence on the movement for separation from New South Wales and the contributions to northern development by prominent Scots such as Evan Mackenzie, Rev. John Dunmore Lang, William Duncan and James Swan," Dr Mackenzie-Smith said.

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