It’s Not Easy Being Green, But We Can Try

John Olsen – ‘Tree Frog’ 1983 watercolour pastel on paper 49cm x 37cm and Victorian Goldfields Petrified Frog [Unknown]

Acclaimed Australian artist John Henry Olsen was born in Newcastle, New South Wales on 21 January 1928. His family moved to the Sydney suburb of Bondi Beach in 1935 which began his lifelong fascination with Sydney Harbour. He went to the Datillo Rubbo Art School in 1947; and from 1950-1953 he studied at the Julian Ashton School and the Auburn School in Sydney (1950-1956).

He then travelled to London and Paris where he studied print-making in 1957, followed by two years in Spain. Returning to Sydney in 1960, he began painting the Australian landscape. In 1972-73 he painted ‘Salute to Five Bells’, which currently hangs inside the Sydney Opera House.

  • He is well known for his paintings of frogs, and for including frogs in many of his works, such as ‘King Sun’ (2013); an 8 paneled artwork, featuring the Sun and three frogs (6m x 8m) Collins Place, Melbourne Docklands.

Olsen has served on the boards of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Art Gallery in Canberra. He published his diaries ‘Drawn From Life’, in 1997.  He has been awarded an OBE (1977); Order of Australia and the Centenary Medal (2001 ) and the Archibald Prize (2005); for his controversial self-portrait entitled ‘Janus faced.’ Olsen currently lives near Bowral, in Central New South Wales.

The other image is something I found in my storage bag after buying some apples and pears in the Victorian Goldfields region, north of Melbourne some years ago. After picking, much of the fresh fruit is put into cold-room storage before it is sold. According to the website Frogs of the Goldfields it could be one of possibly 11 local frogs habituating in this region. They include:

  • Southern Brown Tree Frog, Growling Grass Frog, Verreaux’s Tree Frog, Eastern Common Froglet, Victorian Smooth Froglet, Eastern Banjo Frog Pobblebonk, Striped Marsh Frog, Spotted Marsh Frog, Common Spadefoot Toad and Bibron’s Toadlet.


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