Margaret Woodward won a scholarship to the National Art School in 1956 and graduated with the highest honours, receiving the Nancy Kilgour Memorial Prize. She has been the recipient of the Le Gay Brereton Prize for Drawing, the Wynne Prize for landscape painting and is a twice winner of the Portia Geach Memorial Prize. Her work has been exhibited in many major awards, including the Dobell Prize for Drawing, Kedumba Art Award and the Archibald Prize (on several occasions). Her work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and numerous other major public and private collections.
Woodward's work reveals an integrated approach to picture-making – where distinct values of colour, line and space become one, unified form of expression. As she explains, “A good painting is totally balanced so that everything responds to everything else. Within the immediacy of a relationship you can get a sensation of something else occurring. Within the total thing, however, there has to be unity.”
Her ability to alternate between space and detail, strokes of colour and blended tones, produces a visual panorama of energy and life, emphasising both the sense of the timelessness and sense of immediacy in her art. This interaction dominates her uses of models and figures, which are rich in a kind of personal charisma and yet which are metaphorically universal.
In Woodward's words, as in her artistic universe, “Each work provides discovery which demands more still, multitudes of possibilities which lead one on, including the connections which might arise from one’s subconscious …. The revealing, the discovery of patterns of order, of connection, is at the heart of the work, really” (Gavin Fry, Margaret Woodward: paintings, 1993-2007, Beagle Press, Sydney, 2008).