#NOLAN100 - NO.40

Aboriginal Girl, 1986

Jennie Milne

I moved to The Rodd in June 1998 with my husband and our young daughter. We had only visited once before at Mary’s invitation to see what we thought of it all and if we would be interested in helping her to get the Trust going after it had pretty much lain dormant since Sidney’s death. Neither of us knew Nolan’s work or the dramas that we were letting ourselves in for but we were intrigued. Our visit had been an intimate and warm couple of days as we got to know each other, talking, eating, laughing, the first of a great many equally intimate and very special times in the ensuing years.

Mary introduced us to Nolan’s iconic paintings but as we were to discover they were just the tip of the creative iceberg.

For me, the spray paintings and abstracts are that part of Nolan’s work that physically move me and Aboriginal Girl in particular.  I saw it first not long after we moved to The Rodd. It was at the front of a stack in the paintings store and being short myself, I was literally whacked in the face by the scale and intensity of the shimmering colours.  I’ve seen this painting many times over the years, close up and at a distance, either in the store or at the far end of tithe barn gallery, the aboriginal girl not disappearing into a hot and dusty landscape but bold and visible, vibrating with strong colour.  Mary was never keen for paintings from this series to be shown for exhibitions we held at the Trust in the early years. She thought they would be too much for people and too soon after Sidney’s death.

This painting always takes me by surprise, always stops me in my tracks and I experience the same intense sensation I had felt when we first met in the painting store. I can’t describe what that is. It’s a feeling.


Jennie Milne, designer; friend, archivist and PA to Mary Nolan 1998 to 2014

Sidney Nolan, Aboriginal Girl, 1986, spray paint on canvas, 184 x 161 cm © The Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust 

Aboriginal Girl is showing as part of SIDNEY NOLAN at Ikon, Birmingham: 10 June-3 September

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