An image of Goyder Channel

John Olsen

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

Goyder Channel

Not on display
Further information

Relating his experience at Lake Eyre in the centre of Australia during the early seventies, when this salt-encrusted desert flooded for only the second time since European settlement, Olsen reflected c.1989:
"The enigma of it all. It is a desert and it can be full. After the rains it is so incredibly abundant; so what you are looking at in one place, as if through an act of the Dao, becomes full. It is a very profound thing ... It has an effect on you when you are there because all the time it is impossible for you to accept fully the sense of impermanence and transitorinesss. Somehow it affects you ... you realise that you are looking at an illusion really. I don't think that there is anything more Buddhist than that."

It was the largest flood for 500 years and the first time in recorded history that Lake Eyre north had flooded through the Goyder Channel into Lake Eyre south, covering a distance three times the size of Sydney Harbour, over 175 kilometres.

Throughout the decade, Olsen's work became increasingly diversified as he extended the theme of the miraculous rebirth of the lake in different media, exploring the shifting mood and atmosphere and complex subtleties of light, sky, land and water, using watercolour, gouache, oil and the etching process.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

watercolour, gouache on torinoko paper
190.3 x 99.7 cm image; 191.6 x 101.1 x 3.0 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, brown watercolour "John Olsen/ 75".

Purchased 1980
Accession number
© John Olsen. Licensed by Copyright Agency