#Nolan 100

No 53. Randolph Stow - Suzanne Falkiner


No 53. Randolph Stow - Suzanne Falkiner

In March 1963 the poet and novelist Randolph Stow—‘Mick’ to his familiars—had resigned from teaching at Leeds University and, after wintering in Scotland, was on his way home to take up a position at the University of Western Australia.

Stow had met Sidney Nolan in London early the previous year, after Geoffrey Dutton had suggested to the painter that he illustrate Stow’s poems for Dutton’s publication Australian Letters. The two became friends, sharing a passion for the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud and an abiding love of the Australian landscape. Stow, still in a fragile condition after a traumatic period in the Trobriand Islands a few years before, was also taken under Cynthia Nolan’s wing. ‘We were so late talking I finished staying the night. I do like Sidney - and Cynthia too, though she scares me a bit’, Mick wrote to his mother. To mark the friendship, Stow dedicated to Nolan one of his best-known poems, ‘The Land’s Meaning’:

        The love of man is a weed of the waste places.

                     One may think of it as the spinifex of dry souls.

A year later, as Stow left for a sojourn in Malta en route to Perth, Nolan presented him in turn with a small, impressionistic sketch on a cardboard postcard, apparently made while the artist was on a train, entitled ‘Stow as Rimbaud as Stow’. Inscribed on the back, ‘For Mick, Greetings from the Nolans, 24 March 1963’, the image was closely based on a portrait photograph of Rimbaud that strikingly resembled the young, blue-eyed Stow. ‘Nolan told Mick that while painting it he had two poets in mind, one being him and the other Rimbaud, the French poet’, Stow’s sister Helen recorded.

Of the few portraits made of the notoriously shy Stow, this is the most evocative.

Suzanne Falkiner is a writer. Her biography 'Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow' was published in 2016 by the University of Western Australia Publishing and was shortlisted for the 2017 National Biography Award. Her #Nolan100 choice is part of the University of Western Australia's 'My Collection' project. See also #Nolan100 - No. 38 and No. 23. Part 2 of Suzanne's choice follows at No.54. 

Sidney Nolan, [Portrait of Randolph Stow], c. 1962-63, watercolour, 14x9 cm, The University of Western Australia Art Collection, Gift of Mrs Helen McArthur, 2011

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No.2 - Self Portrait - Angus Trumble

No.3 - Arabian Tree - Kendrah Morgan

No.4 Riverbend I - Francine Stock

No.5 - Desert - Andrew Logan

No.6 Dog and Duck - Jane Clark

No.7 Vivisector - Tim Abdallah

No.8 In the Cave - Rebecca Daniels

No.9 Young Soldier - Clare Woods

No.10 Ned Kelly - Shaun Gladwell

No.11 Bird - Deborah Ely

No. 12 Hare in Trap - Nicholas Usherwood

No.13 Untitled (Catani Arch, St Kilda) - David Rainey

No.14 Death of a Poet - Simon Martin

No.15 Study for Samson et Dalila - Elijah Moshinsky

No.16 Rimbaud at Harar - Edmund Capon AM OBE

No.17 Quilting the Armour - Jackie Haliday

No.18 Snake - David Walsh

No.19 Angel and the Tree - Dr Nicky McWilliam

No.20 Brian the Stockman at Wave Hill Mounting a Dead Horse - Damian Smith

No.21 Steve Hart Dressed as a Girl -Jennifer Higgie

No.22 Women and Billabong - Anthony Plant

No.23 Agricultural Hotel - Philip Mead

No.24 Policeman in a Wombat Hole - Kay Whitney

No.25 Peter Grimes - David Lipsey

No.26 Self Portrait in Youth - Barry Pearce & Duncan Fallowell

No.27 Riverbend I - Ian Dungavell

No.28 Drowned Soldier at Anzac as Icarus - Paul Gough

No.29 Thames - John Tooley

No.30 Girl - Amelda Langslow

No.31 Ned Kelly and Policeman - Daniel Crawshaw

No.32 Tarred and Feathered - Nick Cave

No.33 Self Portrait - Denise Mimmocchi

No.34 Peter Grimes's Apprentice - George Vass

No.35 The Emu Hunt - Roger Law

No.36 Luna Park - Paula Dredge

No.37 Rose in Coffee Pot - Anthony Collier

No.38 The Cardplayers - Nevin Jayawardena

No.39 Bathers - Lesley Harding

No.40 Aboriginal Girl - Jennie Milne

No.41 Pretty Polly Mine - Michael Brand

No 42. Roses in a Merric Boyd Vase - Jack Galloway

No 43. Brett Whiteley - Jonathan Watkins

No 44. Island - Nick Yelverton

No 45. Luna Park - Bill Granger

No 46. Face of the Damned - Kate McMillan

No 47. Central Australia - Leanne Santoro

No 48. Crane - Brian Adams

No 49. Myself - Simon Mundy

No 50. Going to Work, Rising Sun Hotel, 1948 - David Ferry

No 51. Figure at Harar - Andrew Turley

No 52, Greek Figures - Simon Pierse

No 53. Randolph Stow - Suzanne Falkiner

No 54. Landscape No.27 (Convalescence) - Suzanne Falkiner

No 55. Self portrait - Oliver McCall

No 56. McMurdo Sound - Mike Clements

No 57. Faun, Woman, Rider, Horse - Mark Fraser

No 58. Season in Hell (Benjamin Britten) - Anne Bean

No 59. The Slip - Humphrey Ocean

No 60. Central Australia - Chris Drury

No 61. Riverbend - Christina Slade

No 62. Head - Celia Johnson

No 63. Myth Rider - Desmond Browne

No 64. Stockman - Bridget McDonnell

No 65. Untitled (flower) - Roma Piotrowska

No 66. Chinese Landscape - Celia Perceval

No 67. Untitled - Des Hughes

No 68. Crucifixion - Rod Bugg

No 69. Icebergs - Laurence Hall

No 70. Bather in a Lily Pool - Amanda Fitzwilliams

No 71. Breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head - Michael Berkeley

No 72. Carcase in Swamp - Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

No 73. Ern Malley - Isabella Boorman

No 74. Mrs Reardon at Glenrowan - Adrian Kelly

No 75. Landscape Carnarvon Range, Queensland - Catherine Noske

No 76. Abraham and Isaac - Sarah Bardwell

No 77. Rosa Mutabilis - Catherine Hunter

No 78. Artist drawing nude - Victoria Lynn

No 79. Boy and the moon - Natalie Wilson

NO 80. Explorer and Township - Helen Idle

No 81. All Tastes Like Dust in the Mouth... - Carolyn Leder

No 82. Young Boy Who Was Good at Latin - Roxy Shaw

No 83. Mrs Fraser - Anne Carter

No 84. Paradise Garden - David Oliver

No 85. Leda and the Swan - Marilyn Sweet

No 86. Burke and Wills at the Gulf - Jenny Watson

No 87. Dream of the latrine sitter - Ryan Johnston

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No 92. Fountain - Heywood Hill

No 93. Artist and painting - Charles Nodrum

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No 95. Untitled (abstract) - David Jaffe

No 96. Digital image - Joe Studholme

No 97. Seated figure and bird - Sally Aitken

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No 99. Kangaroo at Ayers Rock - Pru and Anthony Napolitano

No 100. The Galaxy - Elizabeth Langslow