Art & Fashion Combine at MBFW

This week Sydney fashionista’s come out in force to celebrate everything fashion at the annual Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

Gary Bigeni

Fashion would be nothing with out drawing inspiration from life and culture.

It is a sign of what is fresh and what is modern.

Coco Chanel once said “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

It is very exciting then that important Australian designer Gary Bigeni has integrated the designs of Olsen Irwin artist Marie Hagerty in his collection for his show at the 2015 MBWF.


This is not the first time that Gary has initiated a creative crossover between fashion and art with very successfully collaborating with Matthew Johnson in 2013.

5040Marie Hagerty

Crucible II 2010

200 x 180cm


Designed for a confident woman who truly owns her style, concise and considered, the collection was accented with cottons from Italy and Japan that were perfectly draped and tied on the body. Gary felt that the line in Marie’s work echoed the ‘masterful drape, intelligent silhouettes and sophisticated use of colour’ applied in his designs.


It is ageless, because she is.

It is feminine, because she would not be anything else.

It is fearless, because she likes surprises with colour, fabric and silhouette.

It is wearable pieces that can stand alone or work together.

because she is a woman who knows her own mind.

It is boutique because she is her own person.


Marie Hagerty

oil and acrylic on canvas

200 x 180cm





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Opening Tomorrow Night 6pm Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra

The Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, in conjunction with Olsen Irwin Invites you to the opening of  ‘Return to Anzac Cove: Your friend the enemy’


This Friday 10 April 6pm

The Anzac legend at Gallipoli is engrained into the Australian psyche. The bloody theater of modern warfare proved to be the testing ground for an infantile nation. Australia, though young, stood bravely beside her brothers and sisters of the British Empire and entered the War whole heartily.

Out of the horrific events observed, not just at Gallipoli, but also, throughout the Great War, come national ideals of mateship, resolve and the “Digger”. It has been a constant subject of fascination for many Australian artists, musicians, play writes, politicians and historians.

The Great War changed everything, as put so eloquently by British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.

Australia lost more soldiers per capita then any other nation in the world. The cream of a generation was lost in battalions of friends, church groups, sporting clubs and workers unions. Every small town in Australia, public institution and school displays the scars of the war in the form of an Honour Roll, Memorial Hall or garden.

The Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra is displaying an exhibition that reflects on the ultimate sacrifice given by those brave young Australian men in 1915.  This exhibition portrays a landscape of tragic memory via the responses of 12 contemporary artists and features two Olsen Irwin Artists Guy Maestri and Luke Sciberras’ works,

The Exhibition was devised from two expeditions, one in 2013, one in 2014, groups of Australian and New Zealand artists set up their easels in the Dardanelles, revisiting what was once called ‘the most sacred corner of Australian soil.’ Tens of thousands of young men had lost their lives here during the 8-month campaign.

The exhibition’s title, ‘Your Friend the Enemy,’ originates in a letter written by Idris Charles Pike, the grandfather of artist Idris Murphy. The phrase testifies to an extraordinary relationship between the enemy camps.

During periodic ceasefires, Turkish soldiers would haul tobacco and papers over no-man’s-land into the ANZAC trenches, in exchange for biscuits and jam. On one occasion there was a note attached, signing off ‘from your friend, the enemy.’

The Exhibition opens Friday 10 April 2015 6pm at the Drill Hall Gallery, Kingley Street Acton.  It will be opened by Bill Gammage adjunct professor in ANU Humanities Research Centre.



Luke Sciberras: Human Condition Exhibition – Glasshouse Gallery Port Macquarie Opens Tonight

This evening the Glasshouse Gallery Port Macquarie is opening a show of recent paintings by Luke Sciberra, Human Condition .

Human Condition is inspired by Luke’s recent travels to Gallipoli as well as the arid Australian interior and green headlands of Bruny Island off southern Tasmania.

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Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, 2015, oil on board, 120 x 120cm


The exhibition features a series of landscape paintings and studies that explore Sciberras’ emotional attachment to place. Through immersing himself in the landscape Sciberras fosters a deep understanding of the unique character and mood of a location. His paintings are layered with meaning and act as portraits as well as landscapes, capturing the personal and cultural histories and the human condition.
Sciberras lives and works in Hill End. He graduated from the National Arts School with a bachelor in Fine Art in 1997. He is regarded as a significant artist within the contemporary landscape genre, Australian critic John McDonald stated,  “Luke is one of the significant emerging landscape artists of his generation”.

If you’re in the Port Macquarie area this evening please join Luke from 6pm at the Glasshouse Gallery.

The show runs from the 27th of March until April 26

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Nic Fiddian-Green At Polo International

The Olsen Irwin Gallery is thrilled to announce that we will be doing a pop up exhibition of Nic Fiddian-Green bronzes at the International Polo match at Windsor Polo Club on the 4th of April.

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The works will be displayed as part of collaboration with Willo Polo Club.

Willo Polo operates out of the magnificent Sydney Polo Club facilities in Richmond. Located 50 minutes from the Sydney CBD, Willo Polo is fronted by Andrew Williams, one of Australia’s highest rated professional polo players. Rated at 5 goals, Andrew has played right around the world, twice been part of Australia’s World Cup Team and recently captained it. Willo Polo offers complete polo management, polo coaching and lessons.

Nic Fiddian-Green’s equine bronzes will be displayed inside this year’s Willo Polo marquee at the International.

This year witnesses the historic grudge match Australia V New Zealand.


Willo Polo invites anyone wanting to enjoy a day out in the last of the warm autumn sun to join them in their marquee at the Polo International.

Tickets are $175 and include food and Alcohol as well as entry into the official after party.


2015 Test Match Invite


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John Olsen gifts new work to Mosman Regional Gallery

Yesterday members of Sydney’s art community gathered at the Mosman  gallery to witness the unveiling of a work gifted to the gallery by John Olsen. The work entitled The Rolling Sea and that Streeton Painting is Olsen’s response to Arthur Streeton’s Sydney Harbour, 1895 donated as part of the Balnaves gift.

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Inspired by seeing a reproduction of Streeton’s Sydney Harbour John wished to “paint a conversation with it”.

 JohnOlsen _Mosman_march2015

“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.”


“This addition to Mosman Art Gallery’s collection by John Olsen, a living master who has been inspired by Arthur Streeton, a great Australian Impressionist, is an important cultural gift for all generations to appreciate for years to come,” Mosman Mayor Cr Peter Abelson said.


The MOSMAN ART GALLERY is located at cnr Art Gallery Way & Myahgah Road, Mosman, NSW and is open daily 10am – 5pm

02 9978 4178





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Martin Emdur opening tonight

The Olsen Irwin Gallery invites you to view the underwater world of  Martine Emdur in her latest exhibition ‘New Paintings’ this evening at our Jersey Road gallery.




oil on linen
183 x 228 cm


Opening Wednesday 11th of March 6-8pm, Olsen Irwin Gallery 66 Jersey Road Woollahra


Exhibition 11- 29 March 2015





oil on linen
183 x 228cm
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Artist Interview: Ann Thompson

Ann Thompson has a solo exhibiting history spanning over fifty years, her latest show at the Olsen Irwin Works on Paper Gallery  ‘Variations’ has an amazing sense of vibrancy and energy that protrudes the gallery walls.DSC_0456

Her show follows a recent artist residency in Riems, France, where Ann, aside from learning about champagne, was able to produce a dynamic collection of works show both at the Olsen Irwin Works on Paper Gallery and also at a survey of her paintings at the Drill Hall Gallery.

Barbara Hess once described abstraction in Abstract Expression  as a ‘constant searching of oneself’.

As an artist now in her 80’s, it seems an interesting idea that Ann is still  searching for herself.

Her works have a wonderful sense of irreverence that can only be instilled by  an artist with a particular confidence to their work.

“It is very important to know that it is always possible to  make a fresh start and rediscover oneself in another place.”


The show has been well received with visitors searching her abstraction for meaning and figurative narrative.

“I can see a Fish”, “That’s a duck”, “Oh, it is people dancing” have been the constant chatter of the gallery as viewer’s eyes are led from one colourful étude to another.

I spoke to Ann to try and get a glimpse about how this force of energy continues to capture peoples imagination  fifty years on .


Adagio VI


gouache on paper
55 x 38cm


 Q1) You have recently returned from an artist residency in Reims, how has this experience influenced your art?

I have worked in studios both here and overseas.  Last year I rented a big studio in Reims.  Some of the works I made there are in this exhibition and others, including large paintings, are in my survey exhibition at the Drill Hall in Canberra. It is very important to know that it is always possible to  make a fresh start and rediscover oneself in another place.

Q2) For an artist that has a career spanning many decades your works have an amazing sense of vibrancy and energy to them, do you think this is a reflection of yourself?

Your question opens many questions for me.  What is expression?  What is the self?  What is a career?  When I am working I don’t feel any particular age.  I tend to be as surprised as anyone by the outcome of the creative process.

Q3) In creating your artworks what do you believe is more important, colour or form?

To me colours have different weights. They can create a discourse amongst themselves.  When I am painting it is the composition that concerns me.  Colour becomes form and form becomes colour. 
Q4) ‘Accapella’ in the gallery window is an example of you using mixed media. Do you believe that artistic experimentation is important to maintaining a long artistic career?  

I have always made collage and sculpture and this perhaps informs the way I paint.  I begin a work and after a while it begins to take its own course. I am always conscious of the differences that make up a work and it is what happens when they spark off each other.



mixed media on paper on canvas
118 x 79cm

Q5) When preparing for a series of works do you find yourself working to a routine or is the creation more organic?

I usually work in a series that continues until I feel that is played out  It is a highly intuitive process and it is the same instinct that initiates and expands and then terminates the series, until it is played out.  It is exactly like music.
Q6) Many people people feel there is an underlining aquatic reference to the show, how do you respond to this interpretation?

Maybe the fact that I swim every morning causes the sensations and impressions of water and under-water to enter into my paintings.

Q7) Lucian Freud once said “The longer you look and an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real”, your works are already abstract, do you believe these works have a subject matter or do you believe it is the up the responder to search for their own meaning?

This question is difficult to answer because both of these propositions seem valid and the one doesn’t necessarily cancel out the other. An abstract painting can invent its own imagery and in a figurative painting, as Freud says, the real can be abstract.

Q8) if you could offer advice to a young artists looking to establish a career in the art world, what would you give them?  

 I think it is a wonderful thing to have a creative life.   There is a world of difference between a career and a vocation   But if a young person has strong sense of vocation nothing can stop them.

Vibrato I


gouache on paper
50 x 35cm

Ann Thomson: Variations is on view at the Works on paper gallery 40 Queen Street until the 14th of March 2015.


















GO EAST bus tour

As Part of Sydney Art Month Olsen Irwin Gallery is playing host to the Go East Bus Tour.

The tour is designed to show off the Eastern Suburbs as an established arts precinct with tourers enjoying curated visits to three of the Eastern Suburbs more established galleries.

Visitors to the Olsen Irwin Gallery during this tour will be able to enjoy Sophie Cape‘s emotive show In The heart Of The Mountain Where No Words Are Spoken.

Confronting the precipice 2014

soil, ink, acrylic, oil and graphite on canvas
201 x 277cm

Tickets are $15 and include Afternoon Tea

7th of March, 2pm- 4:30pm

Book online here


Ann Thomson | Freehand exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery

A survey of recent paintings by Ann Thomson is currently on show at the Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra. ‘Freehand – Recent works by Ann Thomson’ exhibits paintings, mixed media collages and works on paper from the past seven years.

DSC_0430 (2)

Ann in her studio in Reims, France where she spent three months of 2014 on an artist’s residency

For an artist in her 80s, Ann’s work is remarkably youthful displaying a remarkable lightness of touch and gestural freedom. Her works have always been very generous, exuberance being as much an identifiable characteristic of the artist herself as much as it is of her paintings.

Indeed in his speech to open the exhibition, author David Malouf was quick to express his awe at the energy in each work, a testament to the energy of Ann and the vitality imparted upon each painting during the act of creation. And while her brush is loaded with an unbounded energy, her often overlooked collages embody a wondrous fascination with the world’s systems and the way they work, at once existing as reflections of the place in which Ann lives as well as evidence of a spirited inner logic.

Freehand (detail), 2014, acrylic on linen, 93 x 93cm

“Ann Thomson’s pictorial conceptions are characterised by their great vivacity. She has a remarkable feeling for pulse and rhythm, for dynamic energy unleashed into space.” – Freehand, recent works by Ann Thomson

As Terrence Maloon wrote in his foreword to the exhibition: ‘in 2008 one began to notice signs of change in her art – changes that could not be ascribed to the attrition of age. On the contrary: her paintings and drawings were growing conspicuously stronger, wilder and freer. To all intents and purposes, they had begun to grow younger.”

To coincide with this important exhibition, Olsen Irwin is exhibiting a small collection of works on paper at the works on paper gallery. These gouaches were all created last year, 2014 while Ann was on an artist’s residency in Reims, France. Their shifting forms are suggestive of aquatic bodies, something that Ann attributes to her morning swims.

Ann Thomson
Freehand – Recent works by Ann Thomson
19 February – 5 April 2015
Drill Hall Gallery, Kingsley St Acton, 2601. ACT

Ann Thomson
Opening 28 February 2-4pm
Exhibition 25 February – 14 March 2015
Olsen Irwin works on paper, small paintings and sculpture
40 Queen St, Woollahra NSW


Sophie Cape | Artist Profile

Ahead of her exhibition at Olsen Irwin,  Sophie Cape has been featured on the cover of the latest Artist Profile. An in depth interview by Owen Craven, and with photography by Daniel Shipp, ‘Getting the art fix’ reveals Sophie’s art practice as something of extreme personal importance.

Sophie became a full time artist after having to retire as a professional athlete. She quickly found art to be the perfect replacement for the rush of cycling and downhill skiing, becoming acutely interested in the art making process despite it’s obvious differences to extreme sport.

“I was getting the same adrenaline rush from art that I got as an athlete. I became addicted to that through the art process, even though it was a completely different beast altogether.” – Sophie Cape in Artist Profile.

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Dusty Figment, 2015, oil, acrylic, ink, charcoal, carborumdum, graphite, bitumen, soil, bone on canvas, 150 x 200cm

Far from being just a substitute, making art would also prove to be a significant outlet of expression and an avenue for Sophie to exercise her love for being in the outdoors. Her practice is still intensely physical, with the artist talking about the way she uses her own body as a tool within the canvas. Her love of tactility, line and the mark-making act reveal her process to be closely linked with the limits of herself.

Because of the mental and physical energy expended in creating an artwork, for Sophie each one is imbued with its own story and a memory of the place it was made in, and of how the artist was thinking and feeling at the time. Indeed such is the intensity of the creation process that Sophie cannot work with others watching.

In the act of making an artwork, all these personal thoughts and emotions are tied together to a particular location and the opportunity for chance to occur in that place. Whether it be through the materials she uses, the way these are applied or changing weather conditions, spontaneity is also an important part of Sophie’s practice.

Perhaps its the way in which making art allows Sophie to combine all these things together, bringing them hurtling down towards an end point on canvas, that makes it an addictive experience and something that Sophie is highly successful at.

Sophie Cape: In the heart of the mountain where no words are spoken
Opening Saturday 21 February 2 – 4pm
Exhibition 18 Feb – 8March
63 Jersey Rd, Woollahra

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