#Nolan 100

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

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

I really got to know Sid when he and Mary moved to the Rodd and put on music in their handsome oak-timbered barn.

I would go over for tea or a drink and we would talk about music and, in particular, Benjamin Britten (my Godfather and a friend of Sid’s), Wagner and the visual stimulus Sid got from 'The Prince of the Pagodas' and 'The Ring'.

What I particularly liked about Sid’s personality was the combination of raw earthiness and his profound feeling for the aesthetic. That is precisely what I see in so many of his canvases and drawings.

My friendship with Nolan and love of his art made me keen to have some of his work so my heart leapt when I saw in a catalogue a crayon drawing which he had made in response to a Robert Lowell poem ‘Man and Wife’ and from which he quotes the last line, Breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head.  Lowell was born in the same year as Sid, 1917, and they were good friends.

It was not simply my knowing Sid that attracted me to the picture but rather the curious and indefinable interplay between the two figures.  To me the red nature (colour and content) of the picture relates not only to the red earth of so much of Australia but also (obviously) to the opening lines of the poem:

Tamed by Miltown, we lie on Mother’s bed;

The rising sun in war paint dyes us red.

On the reverse of the picture is a sketch by Nolan of Lowell.

Psychological interplay between people and between poetry and the visual arts got me intrigued by that other great Australian artist, and brother-in-law to Nolan, Arthur Boyd. So when performing at the Sydney Festival I found in a gallery a picture by Boyd, 'Lovers and Lizard', from the 1993/4 series, 'The writer and his Muse', I could not resist buying it and hanging it below the Nolan. They make a powerful pair. But let me leave you contemplating the Nolan, and a clue to that interplay, by revealing a few more lines from the closing stanza:

Now twelve years later, you turn your back.

Sleepless, you hold

your pillow to your hollows like a child,

your old-fashioned tirade -

loving, rapid, merciless -

breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head.


Michael Berkeley, Lord Berkeley of Knighton, CBE; composer, also presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions. http://www.michaelberkeley.co.uk/

Sidney Nolan, Breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head, c.1977, crayon on paper, private collection, © Sidney Nolan Trust. 

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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

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

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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

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