Cherries in a bowl, c. 1978

Sidney Nolan, Cherries in a bowl, c.1978, 122 x 91.5 cm, Ripolin on board. Collection of the Sidney Nolan Trust. ©Sidney Nolan Trust.

Peter Blake CBE RDI RA is a British pioneer of ‘Pop Art’ and is strongly recognised for his urban realist subjects and collages. He is best known for his co-creation of the Beatles album artwork, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’

“I first met Sid in the early 1960s when he lived on the river in Putney. I had dinner with him, Arthur Boyd, Charles Carey, who lived next door, and Cynthia, Sid’s wife, who could appear rather fierce at times. Sid had a gigantic reputation then and I had known his works from exhibitions. Years later, I visited him with my wife, Chrissy, when he lived in a flat in Whitehall. He told us he lived there so could get to the Festival Hall every night, as he was passionate about music and theatre. Sid was a real character. He was famous among artists for carrying about a large wad of cash. Younger artists were so surprised by this they ended up nicknaming a roll of cash ‘a Sidney’!

When Sid died he was given a full send off by the Royal Academy, a service at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, followed by a reception. Sid had requested that only artists carry his coffin and so I was a pall-bearer as was his great friend, Gordon House. Gordon and Sid shared a deep love of Wales. I curated a group of Sid’s works for a memorial exhibition that was included in the 1993 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I went back to his Whitehall flat with his then wife, Mary, and looked through the works he had there. I was struck by the large number of early works from Australia he had kept. He must have brought these over with him when he moved to England. I chose two early works from that time, Hare in Trap and Dog and Duck Hotel as they were so unusual. I was also struck by three still life paintings, one of which is illustrated here.”

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