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Sidney NOLAN

Carlton, Victoria, Australia 1917 – London, England 1992

  • England and Australia from 1950

Costume designs for the play Ned Kelly 1956
Collection Title: Costume designs for the play Ned Kelly
Materials & Technique: drawings, costume designs, paper; synthetic polymer paint drawing in synthetic polymer paint Support: paper
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1983
Accession No: NGA 83.2916.1-20
Subject: Theatre arts, Australia
Image rights: © Sidney Nolan Trust

Nolan’s Ned Kelly series weaves biography and autobiography together. The paintings take us through the main events of the story of Ned Kelly and his gang — the shooting of police constables at Stringybark Creek, the ensuing police chase, the activities of the police spy Aaron Sherrit, the siege of the hotel at Glenrowan and the trial which ended in a sentence of hanging for Ned Kelly. In 1848 Nolan wrote that the Kelly saga was

‘a story arising out of the bush and ending in the bush’. An understanding of landscape was a motivation: ‘I find the desire to paint the landscape involves a wish to hear more of the stories that take place in the landscape … which persist in the memory, to find expression in such household sayings as ‘game as Ned Kelly’. The landscape is therefore a crucial part of the Kelly paintings; the story gives meaning to the place’.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra