Video John Olsen: 'Sydney sun', 1965

TLF ID M012600

This resource includes an enlargeable image and corresponding catalogue information of the landscape painting 'Sydney sun' by John Olsen. There is also a video with audio commentary providing an interpretation of the artwork. The onscreen text outlines additional information about the artist, his career, influential ideas and method of working. The abstract landscape is exemplary of Olsen's representation of 'the interdependence with the natural world'. The vibrant sun shape and long tentacles express an energetic sense of 'place'.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This is a resource of great value for the Responding strand of the Visual arts curriculum in years 9 and 10, especially for content descriptions that may refer to students responding to the visual arts works of Australian artists and considering the broader historical and cultural contexts and significance of their work. The resource gives students the opportunity to examine the painting closely and to read and listen to a senior curator's response to the work.
  • The resource can be used to develop knowledge and understanding of Australian art, particularly the contributions of two-dimensional artists in the modern era. Learners could make connections between their own and other artists' works.
  • 'Sydney sun' is a significant landscape by John Olsen (1928-) as it was conceived as a ceiling mural. As described in the soundtrack and text on screen, the artist is influenced by many sources, but particularly Zen Buddhism and Indigenous Australian art. In this work, he has interpreted 'place' using multiple viewpoints from which the viewer can travel through layers of urban life and experience its vibrancy. The long tentacles emanating from the central sun shape are like roads on a map that take us to different locations related to the central theme.
Year level

9; 10

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Gallery of Australia
  • Organization: National Gallery of Australia
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: National Gallery of Australia
  • Organization: National Gallery of Australia
  • Description: Publisher
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Unknown
Learning Resource Type
  • Video
  • Image
  • Text
  • © National Gallery of Australia 2009 (except where otherwise indicated). This material may be copied, downloaded, communicated and displayed free of charge for non-commercial educational use until 31 December 2015, provided all acknowledgements associated with the material are retained.