Galaxy, 1957-58

Sidney Nolan, The galaxy, 1957-58, synthetic polymer paint on canvas on hardboard, 193 x 256 cm, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Gift of Patrick White 1974. © Sidney Nolan Trust.

Elizabeth Langslow is Sidney Nolan's granddaughter

“Sid was my grandfather and in thinking about a favourite picture, this one came to mind.

It makes me think about the afterlife and whether we might all turn to light.

The figures in the painting drift together through inky space, like Great ancestors from aboriginal cosmology. It gives a calm and gentle feeling that there is company in the void. It reminds me of Sid’s other paintings of people fading back into landscapes or water.

‘Galaxy’ also pays homage to fallen soldiers. Sid lost his young brother Raymond in the war. In other paintings, Sid represents Raymond with figures at rest.

Sid wrote to mum once that ‘painting is only a part of life, but nevertheless can bring about the kind of feeling you get when talking closely to someone without any hindrance to understanding.’

For me Sid’s ‘Galaxy’ painting is like that. A kind of map left behind to locate Sid and the people he loved.”

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