Luna Park, 1941
Sidney Nolan, Luna Park, 1941, 49 x 59 cm, Ripolin on canvas mounted on board, © Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust, photo
Bill Granger is an Australian restaurateur and food writer, owner of Granger & Co www.grangerandco.com
"It’s been over thirty years since I’ve lived in Melbourne but Sidney Nolan’s painting Luna Park takes me instantly back to my eighth birthday where I celebrated by terrifying myself and my friends on the so-called Big Dipper and Little Dipper, the majestic, if somehow fragile, roller coasters from the twenties.
The rickety amusement railways preside over the landscape of St Kilda, in urban beachside Melbourne, and this part of Port Phillip Bay, which can be bleak and sombre especially when the weather is grey or gloomy. I spent most weekends of my childhood playing in the parks close where Luna Park’s presence over the quite bare foreshore of St Kilda is dominant and ever-so-slightly sinister.
While I normally associate Nolan’s work with the desolate and empty Australian bush, this captures that isolation but in urban Melbourne. Instead of gum trees in a landscape, here the man-made structure of Luna Park is set against the predominately slate greys and blues of the Bay, and it similarly captures both the presence of the amusement park, the sky and the sea. Stylistically completely different from his later signature work, the palette and the way he captures light and landscape is distinctly Nolan. It gives me a visceral feeling of longing due to the accuracy of ambience of that very particular part of Australia that he represents."