John Olsen: The King Sun Documentary

john olsen documentary

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.

john olsen the king sun muralJohn Olsen working on the King Sun mural with assistant Carlos Barrios.

sun king mural in melbourneCommissioned by businessman Lang Walker, the painting now hangs in the foyer of the Collins Square building in Melbourne.

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:
Praise him.

Keep on painting old fella, you’re an inspiration to many ;-)

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.

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