Face of the Damned , 1982
Sidney Nolan, Face of the Damned, 1982, spray paint on canvas, 182.7 x 159.5 cm, © Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust
Dr Kate McMillan is a London based artist, who has spent most of her life on the west coast of Australia. Her work investigates histories that are overlooked and forgotten, largely through film, sound and sculpture. She teaches contemporary art at King's College, London
"Throughout his career, Nolan addressed the repression and omission of violence against Aboriginal peoples in his work. At the end of his career, he was heavily influenced by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, a problem that still remains very much unresolved. This work and others portray Aboriginal prisoners and the legacy of invasion that haunts contemporary Australia. Growing up as an art student and artist in Australia, this was an aspect of Nolan's practice that was completely absent from the mythology around his work. It wasn't until I moved to Britain that I began to learn about a far more nuanced artist, one who was experimental, innovative and ahead of his time. It is hard to believe that he was working on these paintings, showing at Ikon Gallery this month, as an elderly man with a spray can, addressing issues that white Australia still struggles to confront today."