Nolan, Britten and the theatre
21 - 30 August 2013 10.30am-5.00pm daily - Tithe Barn Gallery
“Remember Britten saying at Mount Olga in 1970 that the soul of Australia had not produced a sound yet. I should have said the aborigines are now silent. Well we will never do the ballet together now.” Sidney Nolan from his notebook, Thurs 15th March 1984.
Twice Nolan and Britten had discussed the prospect of a major collaboration (with Britten’s music and Nolan’s designs) but sadly neither reached fruition. In 1963 they had considered a grand work for the opening of the Sydney Opera House that would have featured the words of the Australian author, Patrick White, and told the story of Eliza Fraser, the wife of a ship’s captain, shipwrecked on a coral reef off the north-eastern coast of Australia. In 1970, whilst visiting the Adelaide Festival, Britten travelled with Nolan into the Australian outback where they saw the ceremonial dances of young aboriginals. The two men talked of a ballet based on the dancing that they had seen, exploring the harmony these people had with their land. On his return to England Sidney sketched out a synopsis and produced several artworks but again it was not to be.
This exhibition explores the artistic relationship between Sidney Nolan and Benjamin Britten and Sidney’s lifelong passion for music and the theatre.