Remembered for her still life oil paintings, Olley was the 1947 recipient of the prestigious Mosman Art Prize. Near the end of her life, she donated more than one hundred of her own and other artists' paintings to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
She trained at the East Sydney Technical College (which later changed its name to the National Art School).
A friend of fellow painters Ben Quilty, Russell Drysdale, and William Dobell, she was the subject of several of these artists' award-winning portraits.
She was raised in Lismore and Brisbane, Australia, and she later settled in Paddington, New South Wales.
She was a contemporary of fellow Australian artist David Boyd.