Auguste Blackman's Poem for John Olsen

Farewell J.O.


As the son of Charles Blackman, Auguste Blackman grew up among the greatest Australian artists of that generation, including John Olsen. Upon learning of his passing on Tuesday, Auguste penned a poem in memorium to the titan.

A reflection on Olsen's verve and vision, his legacy and great loves, 'Farewell J.O.' is a moving ode to the man whose line will always live on. 


John Olsen - 'The Ship Arrives'


Sweet dawn sounds the land and sing
Currawong and butcher birds choraling
Whispering mangroves spinifex say
"Has the master passed this way"?
No more omelette and glass of wine
The frog jumps over the Great Divine
And we shall live for ever and ever
Send all mail to the Never Never
Oh Master of the drip and splash
It Never was about the cash
But knowing the land and itinerant dwellers
Aren't we all the Lucky Fellas


John Olsen - 'Opera House'


John Olsen - 'Foggy Morning'


Goodbye Lake Eyre from high above
And don't you know the greatest love
The Dreamtime in the here and now
John paints the sacred scenic cow

Oh we'll miss that voice and laughter
Shake all foundations to the rafters
Kiss the sweetest kiss of all
From all of us at the Painter's Ball

Across this red brown muddy land
The rivers run to brilliant sand
The sun is yours to hold and keep
For you the mountains stand and weep


John Olsen - 'Artist & Penguin' 


John Olsen - 'White Rhino' 


And as the blue bottles party pop
The trucks and ferries now must stop
And all the world will bow as one
We salute you John, our own King Sun

Auguste 12.04.23


John's gift to Auguste

In 1980, Auguste Blackman visited Melbourne to manage Tolarno Restaurant and help its owner, George Mora, relocate premises. At the time John Olsen was working with Druckma Press — a printmaking studio run by John Baldessin, John Robinson and Les Kossatz that had a gleaming, state of the art lithopress. 

Auguste was in the midst of his printmaking affair, and having recently relocated to Melbourne, lonely. In answer, John Olsen took him for the day to Druckma Press where, before the heroic press, he gifted advice that Auguste still cherishes. 

"Additive abstract", said John — the principle that every blob denotes where the next blob ought to go. Rather than already mapped out, art can be journey of marks that come into meaning step by step. 


John Olsen with Auguste Blackman 


John Olsen - 'Life Drawn Towards the Void'


Explore our John Olsen collection here.

Previous post Next post