#NOLAN100 - NO.96

Digital image, 1987

Joe Studholme

“This post-Ned Kelly image was one of a planned portfolio of prints, which sadly was never published.  It was to have been Sidney Nolan 1980s slant on the first landing by Europeans on the east coast of Australia in the eighteenth century.

In the 1980s my company, Editions Alecto, took on what turned out to be a ten year project to print and publish Banks’ Florilegium, the 743 copper plate engravings of the plants collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Captain Cook’s first voyage round the world in HMS Endeavour 1768 – 1771. The plates were engraved in the eighteenth century from watercolours drawn from nature on the voyage but, for a variety of reasons, were never published at the time. Ours was a first edition, albeit missing Banks’ publishing deadline by over two hundred years.

The Florilegium project was all consuming for our small publishing house and diverted us from our principal business of publishing original graphics by contemporary painters and sculptors. I lamented to Brian Adams, Sidney’s biographer, that I missed working with living artists and he suggested that I should approach Sidney with the idea of making a series of prints, inspired by Banks and Cook and the Endeavour voyage. Predictably he jumped at the idea.

The technique he chose was to experiment with creating images on a computer, using the Quantel Paintbox, then at the cutting edge of computer technology. For ten consecutive days, broken only by a succession of very greedy and delicious lunches at Antonio Carluccio’s first restaurant in Covent Garden, Sidney put together a bravura series of images, mixing his own original work with photographs culled from magazines and catalogues in a technological collage. Some of the results were spectacular.

But then disaster struck. Over a weekend, the studio where we were working unexpectedly went into liquidation and the owner absconded, taking the contents of the studio with him. Despite all efforts we, and his creditors, failed to track him down and the project had to be abandoned.

Fortunately some rough proofs of the images remain in the archive at The Rodd and there is a faint idea that the project may be resurrected in some way.  I’m convinced that this gender bending Ned Kelly image would have become a Nolan classic."


Joe Studholme, Alecto Editions. http://alecto-historical-editions.co.uk/

Sidney Nolan, Untitled, 1987, photograph of a digital image. © Sidney Nolan Trust.

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