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Pollination Is Louise Olsen’s First Solo Exhibit

In celebration of her first solo show, Pollination – ironic given her 30-year career as an artist and designer – Habitus caught up with the colourful Louise Olsen.

Lousie Olsen is surrounded by colour, creativity and the arts – and has been her whole life. Her father is John Olsen AO, OBE, a nationally celebrated artist who in 2005 won the Archibald Prize. Her brother is Tim Olsen, owner of the Olsen Gallery in Paddington, Sydney.

Like her family, Louise has established her own legs in the art and design world. She has been painting for more than 30 years and in 1985 established Dinosaur Designs with her partner Stephen Ormandy. Creating jewellery and homewares from resin in their Surry Hills studio, Dinosaur Designs allows both artists to traverse the realm of sculpture and painting to create pieces they think of as “visual poetry”.

Alongside Stephen, Louise’s art has been shown at at Brisbane’s GOMA, Newcastle Art Gallery, Karen Woodbury Gallery, Bega Valley Regional Gallery, Hazlehurst Regional Gallery, Griffith Regional Gallery, and Port Macquarie Regional Gallery.

But for the first time ever – if you can believe it – Louise Olsen held her first solo show with Art Month Sydney 2020. In celebration of the fact, Habitus has the chance to speak to Louise about her first solo show, Pollination.


I think the most surprising thing about your first solo exhibition is that it’s your first! You’ve been painting for nearly three decades now and are as well known for your art as for Dinosaur Designs (certainly in the architecture and design community). What was the catalyst of events for your first solo show?

Yes – I’m even surprised too! I have been exhibiting my paintings, but yes this was my first solo show. I have never stopped working making marks and creating objects. The catalyst was that I have always loved painting; it’s quite natural for me to be painting. I grew up in the world of art; it’s where I feel really one with myself. I feel that calling. I felt now was a time to show another side to my work.

Tell us about your show, Pollination; how did your interest in nature and the circle of life turn into inspiration? And how has that inspiration manifested into art?

I am fascinated by the cycle of nature, the way nature rejuvenates and pollinates. In spring nature springs, in summer it blooms, autumn leaves fall, winter nature seems to be sleeping or just resting. I love the way pollen blooms and floats in air and fertilities other plants and bees collect the pollen to make honey. Making, creating and giving natures wonderful cycle.

I love a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins; “Nothing is so beautiful as Spring – When weeds, in wheels, shoot long lovely and lush; Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, thrush. Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring. There, it strikes like lightings to hear him sing; The glassy pear trees leaves and blooms, they brush. The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush….etc

Where do you imagine, or hope, the sold artworks will sit?

My Mum used to say paintings are like windows to a space. I hope my paintings are like windows to the imagination too. I feel my painting breath in space, painting bring a new life a new energy to a space.

How does Pollination interact with your previous art and exhibitions?

There is always that connection with nature in my work and it does continue a journey an evolution for there is endless inspiration when you search. Art is an endless curiosity.

Can you talk about the use of colour in your work? You’ve previously said it plays an important role in your work. How do you use it to carry your messages?

Colour is exciting it rushes to your senses. But tone reverberates in the soul. I love to explore this in relationship with colour warm and cool. To me colour is like musical notes developing the sound.

Why did you want to work with Art Month Sydney for the exhibition?

It was just a lovely coincidence that my exhibition dates fell in that timing.

Louise Olsen

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