Sidney Nolan: The Celtic Image



An exhibition of hitherto unknown and previously un-exhibited late monochrome spray paintings inspired by Nolan's visits to The Burren and surrounding area, curated by Professor David Ferry.

The opening sequence of Brian Adams’ 1987 documentary on Sidney Nolan ‘Such is Life’ shows the artist striding, thoughtfully, across the stone strewn landscape of the Burren.  Nolan was a traveller, fascinated by landscape.  He was intrigued by the manner in which civilisations have marked the landscape and how the environment has moulded and shaped civilisation.  He continuously painted man-made markings and civilisations from around the world and landscapes from some of the most remote regions of the world. Immensely proud of his Irish roots, Nolan first came to Ireland, and to the Burren, in 1971 and subsequently made numerous visits.

The works in this exhibiton, loaned from the Sidney Nolan Trust Collection, are undoubtedly inspired by the landscape of the Burren. Executed with the boldness and clarity of a mature artist these paintings are primeval and yet modern.  Their monochrome quality harks back to Nolan’s early fascination with Malevich that led to the black Kelly square. Again, in these works we can feel him striving to create an abstracted formal language but, in this case, one which resonates with his perception of the marks of an ancient civilisation. Read the full catalogue essay 'Walking with Ghosts: From Ballyvaughan to The Rodd (and back again)', a constructed interview between David Ferry and the writer Stephen Clarke - click HERE.

The Gallery | Burren College of Art | Newtown Castle | Ballyvaughan | Co. Clare

SYMPOSIUM: Sidney Nolan & The Celtic Image  

Friday, June 22, 9:30am-3:00pm The Lecture Hall | Burren College of Art

 9:30       Coffee & Registration

 10:00     Welcome: President Mary Hawkes-Greene

10:15     Extracted from the Mass (contexts for the Celtic Image) David Ferry

11:00     Landscape, Myth and Legend Simon Mundy

11:30     Fluid Territories: Place, Image and the Curatorial: Roundtable Discussion with David Ferry, Katriona Gillespie & Conor McGrady, chaired by Simon Mundy

 1:30       Such is Life (Dir. Brian Adams, 1987. 55 mins) film screening. Introduced by Simon Mundy

2:30        Discussion & Closing Remarks

3:00       Finish       


The Burren Annual exhibition brings Irish and international artists working with diverse modes of practice to the Burren to engage local and visiting audiences.  Inaugurated in 2004 it foregrounds Burren College of Art as a site for discourse and artistic engagement and prioritises the rural as a hub for building local and international creative networks.

Sidney Nolan: The Celtic Image

Sidney Nolan: The Celtic Image