Burke and Wills at the Gulf, 1961

Sidney Nolan, Burke and Wills at the Gulf, 1961, synthetic polymer paint on composition board, 122.2 × 152.6 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented for Claire Pitblado from Sunday Reed, 1972. © Sidney Nolan Trust.

Jenny Watson is an artist known for her ongoing investigation of her personal experiences and dreams. She delves into moments of daily life capturing them with simplicity and humility. Beginning as a photorealist painter she broke away from this tradition towards a more naïve style, which often incorporates the use of fabric as a signifier of geographical, cultural and historical histories

“I have always liked Nolan’s camels, perhaps because I find the history of the introduction of camels in Australia fascinating. In Burke and Wills at the Gulf, I particularly like the strange elongated shape that results from the combination of rider and camel, and the contrast of the dark shape, searing white ground punctuated with rocky outcrops, and oppressive pale blue grey of the sky. Any Australian will recognize that hot sky, particular to the desert, that bleaches everything, except for the strong pigmentation of the coats of animals. Becoming conscious of Nolan’s work in High School, I was drawn to the sparseness of the brushstrokes, and the sense of the resultant picture being determined in a very short time-frame, with not a lot of rethinking or over painting. This has become an important aspect of my own way of working, although I have developed this approach quite independently.”

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