An image of Nightfall, when wattle stains the doubting heart

John Olsen

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

Nightfall, when wattle stains the doubting heart

Not on display
Further information

This noctural landscape is based partly on the environment around Wagga Wagga where Olsen lived in 1980 and was to remain until his move to Clarendon in South Australia in July the following year.

Inspired by the poem 'Terra Australis' by Australian poet James McAuley, 'Nightfall, when wattle stains the doubting heart' is more sombre in mood than his work of the previous decade. Ochres, yellows and browns have been replaced by the cool liquid colours of water and night, shot through with iridescent yellow.

Concerned with concepts of 'the void' and 'the edge', which were important for the artist in the 1970s and early 1980s, Olsen has created an atmosphere of serenity - a highly restrained and contemplatory apprehension of the Australian landscape.

In a 1993 interview, Olsen declared:
"I've learned that life isn't about travelling from peak to peak; life is the ability to travel in the valleys as well."

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

Place of origin
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
oil on canvas
167.0 x 167.0 cm stretcher; 168.5 x 169.0 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, blue oil "John Olsen ’80".

Purchased 1981
Accession number
© John Olsen. Licensed by Copyright Agency