Arts / In Residence

Inside Olsen Gallery’s Summer Feast: a 2020 season preview

Refuge in beauty. In its light-filled home on Woollahra’s Jersey Road, Olsen Gallery (together with Communications Collective) invited friends and artists to come together for a Summer Feast – a celebration of its 2020 program and group show featuring over 50 works from its artist stable.

McLean Edwards, Sophie Cape, Anna-Wili Highfield, Dani McKenzie and Louise Olsen, among many others, joined gallery founder and director, Tim Olsen, for a toast to the coming year and an afternoon of conversation over a summer themed banquet. The long lunch table was adorned with Dinosaur Designs’ brightly hued vases and native blooms, surrounded by painted canvases, metal works and intricate sculptures.

Guests sipped on Perrier-Jouët champagne and dined on fresh fish with pomegranate and citrus, heirloom tomatoes and burrata, roast potatoes and radicchio and nectarine salads, as Olsen welcomed friends to a new phase for the gallery: “We’re changing the dialogue,” he explained. “We’ve kept on some very important artists, we’ve gained some new ones … and we are mutating in a way that we hope we are able to create a dialogue that more people find interesting, and will find this place an active art gallery in regard to contemporary art practice.”

“There’s so much happening in the world now that we can all dwell on, but I think what we really need is to actually talk about what’s great about the world. And beauty comes in all forms ... to kick off the day I’m really drawn to a poem that I’ve always loved and grew up with. Louise, my sister who’s here also, our father used to often bring up a poem at dinner and there’s one that’s always stuck with me in regard to the idea of what is beautiful … 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 áll trádes, 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."

“The thing I really appreciate with Tim and John Olsen is their deep regard and appreciation for the art of drawing. It is the very underpinning of great art.” – Sophie Cape

“Our artists are illusionists, but they are illusions that have truth.” - Tim Olsen

“My work is really centred on vernacular photography; what it means, what vernacular photography means to us, why we take these photos, how they inform meaning and memory of events in the past. For my show I’m looking at notions of youth and freedom and travel.” – Dani McKenzie

“Being an artist is a very solitary profession so any chance at a community or any involvement in a community, and one that understands you and your work is a wonderful gift … it really does feel like being welcomed into a family and that’s nice.” – Anna-Wili Highfield

   “I’d known Tim as part of the Australian art world for 20 years and we developed a personal relationship, a good one, and when I left my last gallery of 12 years standing there was no question, I’d come here.” – McLean Edwards

I’m looking into relationships, specifically marriage and divorce, more marriage than divorce hopefully … The dynamics in those relationships I’ve found are relative to the protagonist, relative to who you’re talking about and what the scope of their emotions are, the most intense sequence of emotions over time that you can get I think.” – McLean Edwards

“I think now painting and art is more important than ever to be making stuff … painting now has another voice because it’s real, it’s an expression of humanity that’s been going on since the dawn of time. And for now more than ever when everything is mediated we need to assert our human core impulse to create.” – Marisa Purcell

“Even though I make abstract works, to achieve the contrast of power and sensitivity, an understanding of drawing, and the sexiness of the marks is vital.” – Sophie Cape

"I’m so proud that the artists that I do represent have this inner ability or talent (that really is what art is about), and that is the idea of exploration. Not just exploring what the subject matter may be in the art, but in each of the works of the artists that I like to exhibit here I like to see a exploration of self." - Tim Olsen