#NOLAN100 - NO.54
Landscape No.27 (Convalescence)
Nolan’s collaboration with Randolph Stow to provide images for the poet’s collection Outrider (1962) was close, but indirect. ‘I don’t remember that we ever talked in detail about particular poems or paintings, but we talked a lot in general. We were pretty much on the same wave-length in those days, and started ideas in each other. He called it “cross-fertilization”,’ Stow wrote in 1981. Nevertheless, as Nolan chose the individual poems to which each picture would be linked, he might have gleaned something of their painful inception. After a desolate period in the late 1950s that brought him close to death, Stow had written no new poems in four years, until the stimulation of working with Nolan reignited his creative fire. One of these new poems Nolan illustrated was ‘Landscapes’:
A crow cries, and the world unrolls like a blanket;
like a warm bush blanket, charred at the horizons.
Nolan annotated the back ‘(Landscape No 27) (Convalescence)’, and added an abbreviated quotation from the work. But there is an anomaly here: although the two poems, ‘Landscapes’ and ‘Convalescence’, appear on adjoining pages, there is no image coupled with ‘Convalescence’ in the published book.
The image, apparently derived from one of Nolan’s aerial photographs taken in central Australia in 1949, shows an unending, empty landscape with a fading horizon and yet a tantalising promise of green. Poignantly, if for Stow alone, the link between the two titles designated on the verso is that these are the only poems in the collection addressed to an unknown lover, by the indeterminate pronoun, ‘you’.
Bought for two hundred guineas from the Rose Skinner Gallery in Perth by Professor Allan Edwards for the University of Western Australia’s collection in 1962, at that time (Landscape No 27) was the most expensive painting so far purchased.
Suzanne Falkiner is a writer. Her biography 'Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow' was published in 2016 by the University of Western Australia Publishing and was shortlisted for the 2017 National Biography Award. Her #Nolan100 choice is part of the University of Western Australia's 'My Collection' project. See also #Nolan100 - No. 38 and No. 23. Part 1 of Suzanne's choice features at No.53.
Sidney Nolan, (Landscape No 27) (Convalescence), c. 1962, synthetic polymer paint on paper, 30.5x25.5 cm (h,w), The University of Western Australia Art Collection, Tom Collins Bequest Fund, 1962