A Rare Sensibility | Valerie Marshall Strong Olsen

12 November 2022 - 5 March 2023

November 12 2022 — March 5 2023

This exhibition is a rare opportunity to discover the work of artist Valerie Strong (1933-2011), who was a practicing artist and teacher for most of her life but seldom showed her work in public.

“As long as I can remember I’ve always been drawing and painting. I always remember my mother getting very annoyed with me for using up all her writing pads as a child.”

–– Valerie Strong, 1965

The 70 works in this exhibition, are chiefly from the collection of Valerie’s son and daughter, Sydney gallerist Tim Olsen and Louise Olsen, co-founder of Dinosaur Designs. Dating from 1959 to 2004, the works cross many mediums including oil and acrylic on board and canvas, watercolours, prints and drawings, including several life drawings from the NAS Collection.

“Valerie was an outstanding student at the National Art School, who became an accomplished and inspired artist and teacher in her own right. It’s wonderful to bring her work into the public eye and pay tribute to her as an important part of one of Australia’s most renowned creative families,” said NAS Director and CEO, Steven Alderton.

Valerie Froggett graduated in Painting in 1961 from NAS (then East Sydney Technical College), where two of her most influential teachers were John Passmore and Godfrey Miller. She met John Olsen in 1960 when he taught at East Sydney Tech briefly. They married in 1962 and in 1967 founded The Bakery Art School in Paddington in an old bakery building where they both taught classes.

The exhibition was first developed by The National Art School in 2021 as a complementary exhibition show concurrently with John Olsen: Goya’s Dog. Valerie and John’s children Louise and Tim have curated this exhibition and share memories of their mother and her many unrecognised talents.


Please not this exhibition will be closed to the general public for a Members’ function on Saturday 10 December from 10.00am – 12.00pm.

Public Programs

Image: Louise, Valerie and Tim, 1983. Photo: John Lewis
Image: Louise, Valerie and Tim, 1983. Photo: John Lewis

Members’ morning tea & talk with Tim Olsen
Saturday 10 December, 10.30am for an 11.00am talk
$15 | Bookings essential

Gallery Members old and new are invited to come together for an intimate morning tea in celebration of the year that’s been and what’s to come featuring a talk from special guest Tim Olsen.


A National Art School exhibition