#NOLAN 100 - NO.70
Bather in a Lily Pool, 1957
"When I came to work at the Sidney Nolan Trust seven years ago I was lucky enough to get to know Mary Nolan and have the chance to hear her stories of travelling with Sidney, of setting up the Trust at The Rodd, and in particular her fervent views on food and farming.
After about a year at the Trust, I realised that the centenary of Sidney’s birth was on the horizon – a ‘now-or-never’ opportunity that we should investigate to see how it could help us promote his legacy and vision. Around that time, Kendrah Morgan and Lesley Harding, curators at Heide, came to stay and I had the chance to hear more stories, these coloured by romance, turbulence, generosity, bitterness and of course the creation of the Ned Kelly series of paintings. I asked Kendrah and Lesley about their favourite Nolan works – and the #Nolan100 project was born.
The Sidney Nolan Trust is small in terms of human resources – just 2 permanent members of staff and a small clutch of freelancers, plus a dedicated board of Trustees – but we have Sidney’s truly extraordinary spirit that drives us on to try and finish what he started.
Choosing a ‘favourite’ Nolan work is of course difficult – but as I have asked so many other people to take that challenge, I can’t flunk it myself! I have chosen ‘Bather in a Lily Pool’ – one of the works in our collection. I do love it – it has a pretty colour palette and prompts thoughts of Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ or Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Splash’. The title implies a leisurely moment, but the figure as Sidney painted it looks far from tranquil – he/she is definitely in trouble, flailing about in the water. Having worked with performing artists for much of my career, I love the physicality of the painting – surely if one had been able to watch Sidney making the work it would have seemed like a performance – his hand prints are planted at the top and he must have spun the board to get the drips and splashes of paint to run upwards – exhilarating!"
Amanda Fitzwilliams is PR Manager at the Sidney Nolan Trust.
Sidney Nolan, Bather in a Lily Pool, 1957, Ripolin and oil on board, 152.5 x 122 cm, Collection of the Sidney Nolan Trust, © Sidney Nolan Trust. See Kendrah Morgan's choice at No,3 and Lesley Harding's choice at No.39.