#Nolan 100

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


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

My mother Betty was friendly with Mary, she would go and have coffee with her, and Mary would come over to us.

On one occasion, Mary came in to see my mother and I was in the house with my father Luigi.  He said "let's go out and leave the women in peace". So we went out and walked around the back of Mary’s car, a Mercedes estate, and in the load space was one of Sidney’s paintings. My father looked through the back window and said something like, “Good God, look at that.  Who would want that?  But some bloody fool would probably pay a lot of money for it!”  Then I realised that Sidney was sat in the front of the car with the window open, as it was a lovely sunny day, with a sort of smile on his face.  We made a hasty retreat and nothing was ever said on the matter, although he had obviously heard.

We didn’t see a lot of Sidney he was a very private person and he would spend a lot of time upstairs in the House, in the room in the attic where he played his music. Once a week he would go to Hay with John Hull and would always come back with carrier bags full of books. 

It was mainly Mary that we dealt with although most of the instructions came from him, certainly with regard to the cattle and the purchase of the cattle. Sidney was very hands-on as far as the Welsh Blacks were concerned and he would go to the sales himself, although he did end up paying extortionate prices for them. He went to Doldowlod when they had the dispersal sale and paid an astronomical £5,600 Guinea’s for a cow called Doldowlod Gean, which was a breed record.  She had some fine calves during her time at Rodd Farm.  Everywhere he went to buy cattle though, they saw him coming. Sadly, when he was selling they never made quite so much.

He was a very generous man, but quite soft and a little gullible.  When we went around the shows, usually he would end up winning something and he would be very pleased. We used to go in the beer tent after and he would look quite distinguished, as he dressed quite differently from all the Welsh farmers, with a hat with a large floppy brim.  He always had a big wad of cash on him, like a roll in his pocket, and fifties I am sure. He’d peel one off and send us up to the bar to pay for the drinks. We hadn’t seen anything like that, before or since. 

In 1987, at Easter, our son Spencer was born.  I rang my mother to tell her of the birth and they must have gone out to The Rodd to tell Mary.  I met up with them there after I came back from the hospital. They were having coffee on the lawn. As soon as I arrived, Sidney disappeared.  He didn’t say anything but he came back with a ready cooled bottle of champagne and he popped the cork and we all toasted the new arrival. 

Sidney used to paint in the courtyard of the old barns, with spray paint in the open air.  We didn’t really understand a lot of it although I did like the Dog and Duck Hotel and the Hare in the Trap that he had hanging in the library. There was also one of those carcass paintings with a ram in a tree and in particular a nice one of a kangaroo in front of an Australian scene, Ayers Rock I think.  On the whole we didn’t know if we liked or disliked his work but it always was intriguing.  You could see why people enjoyed it though because it was different, years ahead of his time probably.”

Anthony and Pru Napolitano live just outside Presteigne and were Sidney and Mary’s farming neighbours when they lived at The Rodd. From the Nolans’ arrival, Pru helped Mary to manage the land and livestock before the employment of a full time farm worker. Pru continued to help Mary with the farm accounts and organising the early recitals and exhibitions of the Sidney Nolan Trust.

Sidney Nolan, Kangaroo at Ayers Rock, c.1966, crayon, ink and dye on paper, 52 x 76 cm. © Sidney Nolan Trust

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