#Nolan 100

No 69. Icebergs - Laurence Hall


No 69. Icebergs - Laurence Hall

Still images, film and video recordings provide a glimpse into the past. Through digital video I have seen Sidney Nolan at the Rodd, masked up wielding spray cans and working the paint surface with his hands, demonstrating a use of techniques and tools beyond those of a more traditional painter.

Clearly Nolan’s commercial and industrial background provided the foundations for a practice that took full advantage of technical innovations.

My work with audio visual media enabled me to view a number of video files featuring Sidney Nolan. Seeing his method added a dimension to my appreciation of his landscape works. Nolan’s casual ease of technique, the incorporation of a wide range of paint innovations and his ready adoption of spray cans in the 1980s was revelatory. It was a genuine transformative process for my appreciation of his paintings. In some segments, Nolan had a spray can in each hand, targeting distinct areas of the canvas, overlapping the paint sprays where he intended and occasionally reaching into the painting with a hand or a brush to blend, mix or develop a feature.

From a technical perspective, Nolan the Painter was very much a man of his time.

As with his other works, Sidney Nolan's Antarctica paintings are a product of his willingness to engage with the latest developments of the paint industry. Nolan's expertise and resourcefulness resulted in the generation a unique style of landscape which captures an essence rather than aspires to direct likeness.

As is so often the case when learning about Sidney Nolan’s life and practice, researching the Antarctica paintings yielded surprising results. I was astonished to learn of the volume of paintings the Antarctica trip engendered. Nolan travelled to Antarctica in the January of 1964. After 8 days spent on the ice and flying over the area by helicopter, he was in Australia by February. He travelled from Sydney to Adelaide for the Adelaide Arts Festival and was in London by April.  April in London was Nolan’s first opportunity to use a new medium – an alkyd gel additive which promoted rapid paint drying. It seems likely this allowed him to work so quickly: By the September of 1964 Sidney Nolan had completed 60 Antarctica paintings, including Icebergs (McMurdo Sound Antarctica), 1964 and had painted over 50 of the Adelaide Ladies series as well.

Icebergs (McMurdo Sound Antarctica), 1964 is possibly the most haunting of Sidney Nolan’s Antarctic paintings. It is a seascape punctuated with ice, a work that steps away from other landscape paintings and borders on dreamscape. The sky of Antarctic light manifests colour effects reflected and refracted by ice crystals and the optics of compressed and ancient ice flows. The berg in the foreground looks an unlikely object, yet it becomes something else when married to the green luminosity of its surroundings.

The entire scene is lit by a sky without sun. Ice, air and water glow beneath a sky that is almost lour. With nothing to provide scale we see a seascape which may be on the verge of storm or may be a frozen moment of calm.

Icebergs (McMurdo Sound Antarctica), 1964 embodies a tension that is visible in the dried paint surface. Some paint layers combine whilst others reject each other or form almost uneasy alliances. Antithetical paints are disciplined to mix, forming a texture which favours his goal for a view of ice in sunlight, frozen mountains on a turgid sea and all beneath a sky that stands on an ambiguous edge, paused in a moment of calm, a polar dawn, a dusk, or the eye of a storm. It is an essence of ice and sea in a place where weather is all of life and death and the elemental."

Laurence Hall, Manager of Audio Visual Service, Art Gallery of New South Wales. https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/   @ArtGAlleryofNSW

Sidney Nolan, Icebergs McMurdo Sound, Antarctica), 1964, oil on board, 122 x 122 cm, © Sidney Nolan Trust. Private Collection / Photo courtesy of Agnew's, London and Bridgeman Images.

No.1 - Four Abstracts - Alexander Downer

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

No 88. Footballer - Gerard Vaughan

NO 89. Sketch for Ned Kelly - Amanda Fuller

NO 90. Woman in Lagoon - Jinx Nolan

No 91. Cherries in a bowl - Peter Blake

No 92. Fountain - Heywood Hill

No 93. Artist and painting - Charles Nodrum

No 94. Death of Constable Scanlon - Anita Taylor

No 95. Untitled (abstract) - David Jaffe

No 96. Digital image - Joe Studholme

No 97. Seated figure and bird - Sally Aitken

No 98. Burke and Wills expedition 'Gray sick' - Gary Sangster

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

No 100. The Galaxy - Elizabeth Langslow