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Five bells



John Olsen

Australia, England, Spain, Portugal

21 Jan 1928 –

Artist profile

Alternate image of Five bells by John Olsen
Alternate image of Five bells by John Olsen
Alternate image of Five bells by John Olsen
  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    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/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    John Olsen

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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

  • Audio

    Five bells - John Olsen 2:36

    Five bells - John Olsen 1:31

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 30 publications

Other works by John Olsen

See all 131 works