An image of Five bells

John Olsen

(Australia, England, Spain, Portugal 21 Jan 1928 – )

Five bells

Not on display
Further information

Five bells was my first commission to paint in situ to cover a wall … I didn’t hesitate. I brushed a line around the core theme, the seed-burst, the life-burst, the sea-harbour, the source of life. Inside and around this core, I painted images drawn from metaphors and similes in [Kenneth] Slessor’s poem of our harbour city, and from my own emotional and physical involvement with the harbour, and with my young family in Watsons Bay …

I wanted to show the Harbour as a movement, a sea suck, and the sound of the water as though I am part of the sea ... The painting says directly what I wanted to say: ‘I am in the sea-harbour, and the sea-harbour is in me’.

John Olsen, 1999

oil on hardboard
264.5 x 274.0 cm board
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r.corner, black oil paint "John Olsen '63".
Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1999
Accession number
© John Olsen. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
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