Going to work, Rising Sun Hotel, 1948

Sidney Nolan, Going to work, Rising Sun Hotel, 1948, Ripolin enamel on hardboard, 91.4 x 121.9 cm, The University of Western Australia Art Collection, Perth, Tom Collins Memorial Fund 1953, © Sidney Nolan Trust

David Ferry RE FRSA is an artist and Emeritus Professor of Printmaking at the Cardiff School of Art and Design. He is a Trustee of Sidney Nolan Trust, and currently Chairman of the Chelsea Arts Club, London.

"Paintings have a way of drawing you in; a situation whereby all manner of senses; recollections and perhaps even portents reveal themselves.

I was in Australia last year and visited a former miming town in South Australia, called Burra*. Burra is important for its industrial history (copper mining); it also gave me a glimpse of ‘former life’ outside the main cities of Melbourne and Sydney, which are very much Twenty First Century icons of business and contemporary super culture. Burra however, seemed mainly to exist through the past with the modern concession of a few coffee shops and a Tourist Office.
I was able to obtain a ‘Burra Heritage Passport’ that enabled me to visit sites of historical and industrial importance, with your own ‘key’, so I was able to meander at leisure, and stop and explore the work and industrial constructions of early settlers (mainly Welsh and Cornish). It was a type of industrial archeological theme park, but somehow I was also very aware of the ‘present time’ coupled with the realization that I was so far away from home.

I stayed in a hotel remarkably similar to the ‘Rising Sun’.
Nolan’s painting ‘Rising Sun Hotel’* from 1948 offers a powerful reminder to me of my own footprint in Burra! There is a man and a bicycle (me) and the man (me) is standing in front of a building that was built at a time of Victorian industrial expansion but reminiscent of ‘Wild West’ films from an entirely different continent. All this completely displaced my already dysfunctional ‘away from home’ compass. To add further to the bewilderment of the familiar/unfamiliar, the film ‘Breaker Moran’* was filmed in locations around Burra and particularly at the Redruth Goal, (as though it was meant to be in the Transvaal!).

The raw graphic power of Nolan’s ‘Rising Sun Hotel’, with its curious and evocative time/space anomalies (a type of human loneliness) assumes an evocation in me of a time past, but also a time and location recently experienced.

Good paintings draw you in!"

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