In 1983 Sidney Nolan settled on the Welsh border at The Rodd with his wife Mary (née Boyd).
The ancient landscape of its valley setting reminded him of the timeless and monumental wild places that he had visited in Australia and around the world throughout his life. Inspired partly by his friendship with Benjamin Britten, he founded the Sidney Nolan Trust (Registered Charity 326945) in 1985 with Mary. His vision was for an inspirational gathering place for artists, scholars, students and others to meet, exchange, create and to share their artistic endeavour. When he died in 1992 he bequeathed a legacy of paintings, property, farmland, woodland and ambition.
After Sidney’s death in 1992, Mary devoted the rest of her life to developing the work of The Trust. This included the organic farm on which they had raised a prizewinning herd of Welsh Black cattle, and organising concerts, printmaking workshops (using her brother Arthur’s fine presses) and annual exhibitions of Sidney’s work.
Today, the Sidney Nolan Trust (CIO 1161850) has an established reputation as an important centre for the arts, occupying a unique position regionally and enjoying national and international support and collaboration. Our multi-disciplinary residency and master class programme supports established and emerging artists. Our Learning Programme provides vital opportunities for those, particularly young people from nearby cities, who would otherwise be unable to engage with the arts and the natural environment.
In 2008, we launched a new arts programme, principally funded by Arts Council England (ACE), it focused on sculpture but sought to encourage multi art form, collaborative working. From the outset it offered rare opportunities. to work collaboratively in the landscape. to established artists, early career practitioners and people, particularly the young, from across the region, who otherwise would have limited or no access to the arts and the land.
In 2010, in response to the success of the programme’s first 2 years, the Board of Trustees agreed to allow Rodd Farm’s Grain Barn to be used as a hub for the programme. ACE funded the installation of basic storage, kitchen and WC facilities (Phase 1) and the Trust converted its farmhouse to provide simple accommodation for residencies.
In 2012/13, we restored our 17th century tithe barn and converted it into a gallery and meeting space with wheelchair access, a DDA compliant toilet block and administrative offices.
In 2017 we celebrated the centenary of Sidney’s birth, co-ordinating a major programme of exhibitions, symposia and projects. At The Rodd, we marked the occasion by conserving Sidney’s studio (his final, and only remaining in situ studio) and opening it to the public.
These developments have been transformational, enhancing the cultural context for our artists and participants, increasing our visitor numbers and extending their experience on site.
The Trust has received support from a large number of individuals and organisations throughout these years and would like to express particular thanks to Professor Anthony Collier, founder of our sculpture and residency programme, Mike Clements, founder of our fine art printmaking programme, Mary Nolan for her dedication to the Trust for over 20 years until her death, and to our current and retired Board of Trustees.