Artist Interview: Guy Warren

At 94 Guy Warren is one of Olsen Irwin’s more senior artists.


Edward Hoddle, Manager of the Olsen Irwin Works on Paper Gallery, had the opportunity to meet with guy and discuss his life and his art.

Guy’s generation saw first hand the horrors of the Second World War. Guy, who turned 18 in 1939, served in the Australian army throughout the war. The world now seems strikingly different to the one the fresh-faced 18-year-old Guy Warren went to defend.  Technological advances throughout his lifetime has made the world more accessible and transformed our society. Guy’s work has continued to change and develop to adapt to these changes.


Afterno0n Late (Nullabor)
watercolour on paper
39 X 57 cm


Guy has enjoyed an almost sell out show at the Works on Paper Gallery. The works in the exhibition explore the integration of human existence within the natural world and is made up of  landscapes produced during recent trips to Alice Springs, Broken Hill, The Nullarbor Plains and Equator. Mythology, memory and personal experience are all intertwined within Guy’s landscape linking the natural world to human experience.


Conversations with Alice- Hills near Ross River
Oil Crayon on Paper
56.6 X 76 cm

The great Australian art critic John McDonald wrote in his essay, Guy Warren: Figure in a Landscape,

“The most important thing for Warren is that each work represents a transforming feat of the imagination, a way of re-imagining or re-inventing the world, not simply a record of sensory experiences”

This quote from McDonald encapsulates the essence of Guy’s landscapes. The application a few simple strokes carefully applied by Guy is able to induce a sense of narrative, time and mythology.

It has been a complete honour to work with Guy during the show the show. Guy is a true gent the truest of sense of the word. His passion and energy for art clearly still dives him and it has been a wonderful experience to work with him. I had the pleasure of asking Guy a few questions about the show and his experience as an artist.



Silverton- The house with the crooked chimney
Watercolour on paper
38 X 56.5

 Guy Warren Interview

Q1) You recently celebrated your 94th birthday, is the naming of the show ‘On the road’ a reflection of your desire to keep going and not slow down?

The images in the show derive from several sources — Alice Springs, Broken Hill and Ecuador.  It was my son’s suggestion to call it “On the Road” as a reference to those wanderings.  But I like your reading of the title — about keeping going and not slowing down.  Exactly how I feel.

Q2) The show is comprised of landscapes, what is it about the Australian landscape that attracts you?

What do I like about the Australian landscape?  The tough uncompromising power of it all.  I tried to paint the English landscape when my wife and I lived in London for eight years but i found it all too calm and beautiful — like a great park.  i prefer the toughness of the Australian landscape.  Anyway, it’s probably in my psyche — I’ve walked across it,  slept in many different and difficult parts of it, driven through it, for most of my life.  It’s part of me now.

Q3) There is interplay of mythology and spirituality associated within your landscapes. Is this something you read from the landscape or something you place within it?

I find it difficult to see the landscape without thinking of all the people who have lived and died in — and on — that land for thousands of years.  I think the works frequently shift between the figurative and the abstract as they experiment with the placement of the figure within the landscape. I am interested in mythology and the metaphors we construct in order to make sense of man in nature and, perhaps, the presence of nature in man.  If you have read the autobiographical section in my book you may remember that I was intrigued by the way the local people in New Guinea decorated themselves to the point where they almost merged into their  richly decorative landscape — a wonderful metaphor for the  idea that we are part of the environment, not the owners or masters of it.  For many years my paintings were inspired by the rainforests of New Guinea and the rainforest around a retreat near Jamberoo on the NSW south coast – an area of thick, lush, heavily-textured growth with a mountainous escarpment behind.  This area has been the source of many of my images, including the “Wingman” and the Gaia figure — the latter a reference to both the Greek myth of Gaia as a mother-earth figure and to the books of the English scientist James Lovelock.  More recently, though,  I have been working with the sparse landscape of Alice Springs and Broken Hill, a different challenge and a change from the rainforest. The figure of the bride at Broken Hill came about one morning when I was working with Ann Thomson on a hill, surrounded by the detritus of old mining building and machinery — and a bridal party, fully attired in bridal finery, suddenly arrived.  It was surrealistic.

Q4 ) Many of the works are entitled ‘Field Notes” is working en plein air something you find benefits your creative process?

I enjoy drawing in the landscape, sometimes in black and white or colour, and looking and walking through it, trying to get to know and understand it, but I don’t enjoy setting up an easel and working in oils.  The wind blows the easel down, the sand blows onto the paint, the flies and mosquitoes zoom in.  Not my favourite way of working.

Q5) Your works strike a balance between figurative and abstract. Would you say you’re inspired by the figurative or does the figurative return in your abstraction?

This has probably been answered by No 4.

Q6) As a senior artist what advice would you give to younger artists trying to start out?

I’m not sure that I’m the right one to ask.  I’m still learning.  Keep doing what you think is right and honest to your own personal experiences and background and be as professional as you can be.  Mix with other artists.  Learn from them.  Study the old masters. Read a lot.  Look a lot. Think a lot. Be brave, take risks, don’t be afraid of disasters. Don’t be frightened to do something stupid — it might work. Trust your intuition. Expect great doubts and occasional depression.  Keep working.  But I warn you — as you get older it doesn’t get easier.

Q7) Your show has been a large success and has sold around 80% of the works so far. What can we expect from your larger show in September?

I hope the September show will be much better, but like every artist I know — and every artist in history — one’s creative life is full of doubts.  There is no easy way. The American artist Philip Guston said “Doubt is the critical awareness of the existence of alternatives.”  Bob Hughes said “The greater the artist, the greater the doubts.  Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”  Despite all the doubts along the way, the work for September is looking good.


Guy Warren: On the Road closes this Saturday 2 May 2015 and the exhibition can be viewed online here.

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Guy Warren: On the road opening tomorrow 2- 4pm

Guy Warren is no stranger to the Australian art scene with a career spaning over 70 years. Yesterday Guy celebrated his 94th birthday and in testament to the longevity of his art he has a new exhibition at the Works on Paper Gallery.

1_art_Guy Warren-420x0

The Exhibition is entitled ‘Guy Warren: On the Road’ and celebrates the artists unwavering energy for life.

When asked how he felt at 94 he simply answered “it’s the new 21”.


Conversations with Alice-Sentinel (2)

Oi Pastel on paper

38 X 56.5cm


The works in this exhibition explore the integration of human existence within the natural world and is made up of  landscapes produced during recent trips to Alice Springs, Broken Hill, The Nullarbor Plains and Equator. Mythology, memory and personal experience are all intertwined within Guy’s landscape linking the natural world to human experience.


Silverton- The house with the crooked chimney
Water colour on paper

38 X 56.5 cm


The great Australian art critic John McDonald wrote in his essay, Guy Warren: Figure in a Landscape,

“The most important thing for Warren is that each work represents a transforming feat of the imagination, a way of re-imagining or re-inventing the world, not simply a record of sensory experiences”

This quote from McDonald encapsulates the essence of Guy’s landscapes. The application a few simple strokes carefully applied by Guy is able to induce a sense of narrative, time and mythology.



Conversations with Alice- Hills near Ross River
Oil Crayon on Paper
56.6 X 76 cm

The exhibition is comprised of 22 works made from a mix of water colour and oil pastel.

Guy Warren: On the road opens Saturday 18 April 2 – 4pm

The catalogue is available online

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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.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 12.37.32 pm

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.

Screen shot 2014-04-24 at 3.25.08 PM


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.

JohnOlsen_MosArtGallery_19March2015 2

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