All Tastes Like Dust in the Mouth / All Strikes Like Iron in the Mind, 1954

Sidney Nolan, All Tastes Like Dust in the Mouth / All Strikes Like Iron in the Mind, 1954, felt-tipped pen and ink on thin coated paper, 25.4 x 30.4 cm, inscribed by the artist in ink on verso ’97 “All tastes like dust in the mouth/ All strikes like iron in the mind”/ Nolan/ “Back of Beyond”’, British Museum (2006, 0228.2). Presented by Lady Mary Nolan. © Sidney Nolan Trust

Carolyn Leder is Adviser to the Stanley Spencer Gallery of which she is a former Trustee. Her varied publications on Stanley Spencer include a book about his ‘Scrapbook’ drawings, and many exhibition catalogues. She is regularly consulted on Spencer by Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

“I have been haunted by the sheer force of this image since seeing it at the British Museum’s ‘Out of Australia’ exhibition in 2011. Like a giant sculpture, the cattle carcase with its skeletal ribs dominates the vast expanse of the drought-ridden Australian outback. Nolan’s virtuoso draughtsmanship is complemented by the sensuous blacks of the ink from his felt-tipped pen.

I have long responded to the raw visceral power of Nolan’s images and his genius as a narrative artist. My reaction no doubt reflects my ancestry. Born in Melbourne, though living in England since the age of three, I feel a strong emotional attachment to Australian art. I met Sidney Nolan at his Guildhall, City of London Festival exhibition in 1964, where he kindly talked with me at some length, a student and tyro art historian with a vacation job at the show. But there is another link, in that my cousin, the painter Moya Dyring (1909-67), remained a friend of Sidney’s from their early days at Heide. Moya lived for many years on the Ile-Saint Louis in Paris, an expatriate like Nolan, both of whom returned to Australia on a regular basis. As discussed in Gaynor Cuthbert’s ‘Paintings from Paris: The Life and Art of Moya Dyring’ (2014), Moya was married for some years to the artist and diplomat Sam Atyeo, who also features in the Nolan story.”

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