John Olsen is like our art grandfather in Australia. At 86 he keeps on keeping on, producing art and enjoying all the pleasures that life brings with it. In a film directed by Tony Williams to document a new mural 6 meters by 8 meters (20 x 26 ft) in size we see Olsen’s body looking a little rickety but his mind and spirit is as youthful and cheeky as ever. The giant 8 panel mural is his second largest artwork ever, with only his Sydney Opera House mural “Salute to Five Bells” being larger.
A 27 minute version of the film “The King Sun: John Olsen” can be seen on the ABC’s Iview website here but it expires on the 1st of July and I think it might be geo-blocked, meaning people outside of Australia can’t view it. Whether you like his art or not you should still watch it as it’s about life as much it’s about art. I have met older 50 year old people than Olsen in his mid eighties. A full 54 minute version of the Olsen documentary will be available from Four Donkey Films in mid July on their website here.
In the film John Olsen reads a poem by English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called Pied Beauty.
Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Keep on painting old fella, you’re an inspiration to many