The Benalla Art Gallery’s significant collection of Nolan’s work is on display in the Simpson Gallery until 21st May and is well worth a visit. The much loved tapestry of the Glenrowan siege, now restored, is on view. As well, eight of the iconic Kelly-series screen prints tell the story of the Kelly saga.
Two groups of rare photos taken by Nolan between 1949 and 1952 depict the drought in the Queensland outback. They give the viewers insights into where he found some of the well known images in his landscapes of the red and barren interior of Australia. The mummified images of horses and cattle are particularly arresting. The Brisbane courier Mail didn’t print any of these photos despite commissioning some of them, as they were deemed too confronting for their readers.
Smith also commented on the painting “Horse rolling on the beach” (1945). It appears Nolan caught a glimpse of a horse rolling in the sand on St Kilda beach when he was travelling past by tram. Nolan’s almost photographic visual memory stored this quirky image and used it later for this painting.
My favourites are the two small studies done in fabric ink and wax crayon that reference Greek Myths entitled “Prometheus” (1968) and “Woman and Bird” (1958).
Nolan was a prolific painter, photographer and voracious reader and collector all his life, interested particularly in myths and poetry. His wide reading seemed to stimulate his vision and form the basis of some of his works.
Postscript: Meg’s report also relates to the May session of Art Appreciation, where the exhibition covered was the Sydney Nolan: 100 Year Celebration
promotion, Benalla Art Gallery Website)