John Olsen 'Earth Lock'

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John Olsen’s ‘Earth Lock’ is an image of refined beauty. Awash in a sandy fawn, a tadpole shoots towards a luminous nucleus. It comes from a portfolio of twelve etchings published in 1978 to accompany Australian poet Jennifer Rankin’s book, ‘Earth Hold’, with this work gracing the cover. 

The tondo etching and poem’s title recall tidal locking – the phenomenon of the Moon’s synchronized orbit around the Earth. Throughout his career, Olsen returned to this idea that all forms of life are interconnected. With the breaking of daylight, the tadpole squirms forward; as the tide recedes, the moon glides through the sky. For Olsen, we are all in lock step with the rhythms of nature. 

With an impression represented at The Art Gallery of New South Wales and illustrated in Ken McGregor, Teeming with Life John Olsen: His Complete Graphics 1957 - 2005, Macmillan Publishers Australia 2005 (page 75), ‘Earth Lock’ is a museum-quality work. To accompany Olsen’s lyrical line, this work comes with an edition of Rankin’s book of poetry. 

For collectors of etchings, modern art and Olsen, ‘Earth Lock’ is miraculous.


John OLSEN (1928 - 2023)
'Earth Lock' 1978
etching on paper
Edition of 60
Image Size: 29 x 29 cm
Dimensions: 86 x 63 x 2 cm
Signed: Numbered, titled, signed 'John Olsen' and dated below image.
Comes with Letter of Provenance

Another edition of this print is held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Accession number: 139.1991


  • Jennifer J.Rankin Earth Hold, illustrated by John Olsen, Secker & Warburg, London 1978; illustrated on the cover and acompanying the poem on page 1
  • Makin, J., and McGregor. K., John Olsen Teeming with Life, Macmillan Art Publishing, Victoria, 2005, p. 75 (illus., another example).

Condition: Excellent

(c) John Olsen / Copyright Agency