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Olsen gifts new Sydney Harbour painting

Posted Thursday 19 March 2015

Esteemed Australian artist John Olsen AO OBE has gifted a new painting of Sydney Harbour to the Mosman Art Collection. Titled, The Rolling Sea and that Streeton Painting, this new work is a significant acquisition for the Gallery, the municipality of Mosman and for the greater audiences of Sydney.

Olsen’s painting was inspired by Arthur Streeton’s iconic Sydney Harbour 1895, currently on view in the Balnaves Gift. Philanthropist Neil Balnaves AO donated the Streeton, along with a further fifteen Australian Impressionist paintings that depict the Mosman area, to the Gallery in 2012.

John Olsen was stimulated into painting his new work after receiving the original invitation to the launch event for the Balnaves Gift – as the Streeton was reproduced on the invitation cover. So enthused by this Streeton work, Olsen made immediate arrangements to view the classic painting and promised to paint a new artwork for the Gallery’s Collection in response. “I want to paint a conversation with it”, Olsen told Mosman Art Gallery Director, John Cheeseman.

John Olsen went on to write in a letter to John Cheeseman and the Gallery: The painting is an evocation of memory. As students at the Julian Ashton Art School we would delight to take the Manly Ferry when the sea was rough. Round about Balmoral the ferry would roll and the turbulent sea would wash over the deck. How exciting, what fun. The Streeton painting evokes that – notice how the ferry is riding the turbulent sea. When I saw it at the Mosman Gallery, how supremely it is and confirms our experience today. ‘The Rolling Sea…’ confirms and emphasises that experience, it is an all at once world. I can think of no better place for it than to be near Streeton’s painting of 1895 and how that same circumstance can be viewed today.

John Olsen’s name is widely associated with his interpretation of the Australian landscape and of Sydney Harbour. Olsen has lived and worked extensively overseas, but his commitment and sensitivity to Australia, in particular to Sydney and its Harbour surrounds has remained strong throughout his practice.

The Rolling Sea and that Streeton Painting was unveiled at Mosman Art Gallery on 19 March 2015 with special guest comments from Dr Michael Brand, Director of Art Gallery of New South Wales and John Olsen were in attendance. Also in attendance was Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, who officially opened The Balnaves Gift at Mosman Art Gallery in 2012.

The Rolling Sea and that Streeton Painting by John Olsen will sit aside Arthur Streeton’s Sydney Harbour 1895 in the Balnaves Gift at Mosman Art Gallery until further notice.