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Congratulations Tim Olsen

Waverley Council (Nib awards)
24 November 2021

Congratulations to Tim Olsen winner of the 2021 Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize and Nib People's Choice Prize for his memoir Son of the Brush.


The Nib People's Choice Prize ($2,500) is awarded by popular vote. Congratulations to Tim Olsen, one of Australia's most recognised and respected art identities, successful gallery owner and now, prize winning author.  Tim Olsen is the son of arguably Australia's greatest living artist, John Olsen. Son of the Brush is his fascinating, candid memoir of what it was like to grow up in the shadow of artistic genius, with all its wonder, excitement and bitter disappointments.

The Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award presented by Waverley Council with support from Principal Sponsors Mark and Evette Moran, and community partners Gertrude & Alice Bookstore Cafe, celebrates excellence in research and writing in Australia. 

Portrait of the gallerist

Belle Magazine
January 2021

Set above his Sydney gallery yet worlds away from a white cube, Tim Olsen's private domain is an Aladdin's cave of art and objects that paints a revealing picture of his lifelong passions - much like his new memoir.

The Writers: Tim Olsen

Night Life, ABC
With Dominic Knight
1 January 2021

It's always hard having a famous artist as your father. Tim Olsen knows all about it. He speaks with Dom about his new biography "Son of The Brush", about his life and relationship with his father, the painter John Olsen.

Duration: 24min 33sec
Broadcast: Fri 1 Jan 2021, 10:00pm
Click here to listen

The Great Expectations of the artist's son

Quadrant Magazine
Matthew White
30 December 2020

This haptic book, for it is large and weighs in the hand, carries an immense personal burden. A whole life is laid bare: a history of peripatetic childhood, neglect, alcoholism, abandonment, false starts, humiliations, failed marriages, addiction and neglect in turn, dependency, self-deception, relapse, renunciation. All the ingredients for the modern celebrity confessional.

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Tim Olsen: Son of the Brush

a rich life
Chloe Mandryk
24 December 2021

‘Quixotic’ is a go-to and apt term used by author Tim Olsen in ‘Son of the Brush’, a memoir amidst one Australia’s most eminent bohemian families. He muses on the relatable milestones of his life from the politics of the schoolyard, the gamut love runs, sobriety, crafting a career and parenting. The relentless pursuit of an ideal is unique to an individual let alone a clan so the spark in this title is surely the unique accounts of how Tim, John Olsen, Louise Olsen and Valerie Strong have strived for a rich life.

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Tim Olsen: Son of the Brush

Art Almanac
Alice Dingle
21 December 2020

The Olsen name has long been regarded as that of Australian art royalty, with revered artist John Olsen arguably the sovereign. ‘Son of the Brush’ is a frank memoir shedding light on the personal and professional life of the artist’s only son, Tim Olsen. A detailed recount of events traversing the art dealer and gallerist’s early childhood to present day, Olsen’s story is part celebration, part confessional; unfurling the art scene (both nationally and internationally, past and present) and owning his identity and place within it, and within his family.

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Swashbuckler and Son

Australian Book Review
Ian Britain
December 2020

Extract: A voyage round my father’, to quote the title of John Mortimer’s autobiographical play of 1963, has been a popular form of personal memoir in Britain from Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son (1907) to Michael Parkinson’s just-published Like Father, Like Son. The same form produced some of the best Australian writing in the twentieth century, with two assured classics in the case of Germaine Greer’s Daddy, We Hardly Knew You (1989) and Raimond Gaita’s Romulus, My Father (1998). The tradition has continued into the present century with – to list some of the choicest plums – Richard Freadman’s Shadow of Doubt: My father and myself (2003), Sheila Fitzpatrick’s My Father’s Daughter (2010), Jim Davidson’s A Führer for a Father (2017), and Christopher Raja’s Into the Suburbs: A migrant’s story (2020). Mothers in such sagas are far from absent, and they can emerge, though not always, as the more obviously loveable or loving figures. As signalled by most of those titles, however, mothers loom less large over the unfolding narrative. Fathers may not always know or act best, but, partly because of their often tougher, commanding mien, they become irresistibly the centre of attention.

Tim Olsen: My mother's wise words taught me why we love art

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sunday Life
Robyn Doreian
12 December 2020

Tim Olsen / Occupation Owner Olsen Gallery / Age 58 / Status In a new relationship / Best known for His art gallery

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Great holiday reads, from page-turners to perfect prose

The Sydney Morning Herald
Georgie Gordon
12 December 2020

Whether at the beach, the park or lazing in bed, these are the books you’ll want to keep returning to over the break.

Son of the Brush
by Tim Olsen (Allen & Unwin)

Olsen’s memoir about the joys and challenges of growing up in the shadow of his famous artist father, John, is a fascinating read. In addition to all the juicy art world anecdotes, it’s a candid look at his journey from “free range” child to respected art dealer.

Booked up for Summer: Son of the Brush

December 2020

Son of the Brush is Tim's memoir, starting with his earliest memories when the family lived in Watsons Bay and ending in 2020 with a bough of COVID-19.

Son of the Brush: A Memoir by Tim Olsen, behind-the-scenes of the art world

The Australian
Ashleigh Wilson
5 December 2020

Tim Olsen gives an insider’s view of the art world and living in the long shadow of his famous father John.

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Tim Olsen Son of the Brush Review and Interview

Living Arts Canberra
Barbie Robinson
2 December 2020

Described as a memoir, Son of the Brush does indeed introduce us to some of the key figures of the art world in Australia in the 20th and 21st century,  in the context of the life of the author, son of painter John Olsen.

Listen to the interview here

Image: Tim Olsen at the book launch, AGNSW Photo: Wesley Nel

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The Sydney Morning Herald
Nicole Abadee
5 December 2020

Summer is upon us and the holidays beckon. What better way to further warm the heart than with a good book on the beach?

Son of the Brush, the frank memoir of Tim Olsen, John Olsen’s son, charts his tumultuous life from the highs of mixing with Australia’s artistic and social elite, to the lows of his battles with alcoholism and depression.

Tim Olsen on growing up with a famous father, artist John Olsen

Radio National
Hilary Harper on Life Matters
24 November 2020

John Olsen has been called "Australia's greatest living artist" but what was it like growing up within his orbit?
Art dealer and gallery owner Tim Olsen reflects on his childhood and life in a revealing and poignant memoir, 'Son of the Brush.

Guest: Tim Olsen, author of 'Son of the Brush'
Duration: 13min 8sec
Broadcast: Tue 24 Nov 2020, 9:26am

Tim Olsen's memoir of life with his famous dad is a fascinating insight into the Sydney art world

Canberra Times
Sasha Grishin
21 November 2020

Tim Olsen is the son of the high profile artist, 92-year-old John Olsen. As painters of his father's generation considered themselves as "brothers of the brush", Tim Olsen, by extension, calls himself a "son of the brush". This is a personal memoir - lively, chatty and quite readable.

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My father, my sadness: John Olsen's son paints a portrait

The Age
Helen O'Neill
12 November 2020

John Olsen is the subject of an explosive memoir penned by his son, who accuses the artist of multiple infidelities and building his creative career at the expense of the family he left behind.

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Tim Olsen on getting out from under the shadow of his famous father John: 'He’s not a demigod'

The Guardian
Susan Chenery
10 November 2020

John Olsen’s Australian landscapes captured the world’s imagination but to his son the artist was akin to a deity – until he wasn’t.

Where there is artistic acclaim there is often collateral damage. History is littered with redundant muses, discarded partners, children left behind. It can take a certain ruthlessness to live for art, in a heightened state of intensity, making it the only thing that matters.

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Sex, alcoholism, abandonment: growing up with Australia's most famous living painter

The Sydney Morning Herald
Helen O'Neill
5 November 2020

Review of Son of the Brush, A Memoir by Tim Olsen

Tim Olsen – international art dealer, philanthropist and newly minted memoirist – wants to show me a painting. Our location is his apartment, high above his gallery in the prosperous Sydney precinct of Woolahra, and the image depicts Lake Hindmarsh in western Victoria's Wimmera.

The 92-year-old who created this half a century ago is routinely described as Australia's greatest living painter. He is one of an elite stable of creatives represented by Olsen. More to the point, he's the art dealer's dad.

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Review: Son of the Brush

Queensland Reviewers Collective
Ian Lipke
5 November 2020

Inspiration guided the person who coined the title of this memoir. Son of the Brush allows the writer to give the reading public information about the writer’s famous father – his virtues and vices, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses while making available information about himself, one of the recognized business leaders in Sydney. The Brush is John Olsen, the son is gallery owner Tim.

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