Looking in Excited Reverie: Another look at Nolan

Posted by on Oct 26, 2017 in Tributes | 0 comments

This essay by Simon Pierse pairs nicely with Felicity Moore’s Sid, Ned and Dan in examining and paying tribute to Nolan’s art-making and universality – this piece seeking its emotional source and intensity, the other examining the pivotal role of First Class Marksman. Both take a wry look at the Nolan awry. Here, inter alia, Simon Pierse draws on Cynthia Nolan’s written descriptions of her husband’s creative process.




Looking in Excited Reverie: Another look at Nolan


2017, the centenary year of Nolan’s birth, seems an appropriate time to re-visit and reappraise the artist’s life and achievements within a contemporary global context. Four years ago, for the exhibition catalogue to the Australia show held at London’s Royal Academy, Thomas Keneally wrote somewhat equivocally of ‘the famous and unavoidable Sid Nolan’ a term that suggests the inevitable coming-to-terms-with that all Australians interested in the visual arts must sooner or later face, if only to exorcize the ghost of Nolan’s hefty legacy and to move on.1 Calling him ‘Sid’ helps, no doubt. But today, there is, amongst many, a discernible note of begrudging reluctance to recognise the full extent of Nolan’s achievements. Amongst Australians, there could be a touch of the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ in acknowledging Nolan’s rapid rise to international fame, partly due to the fact that, on first appearances, it seems that Nolan turned his back on his native Australia – the continent that nurtured his artistic sensibilities and fed him his most iconic imagery – when, in 1950, he departed the antipodes to pursue a career in England, hanging firmly on to the coat tails and promises of Sir Kenneth Clark as he did so.


Perhaps the ambivalence towards Nolan today is partly because he was just too prolific and, to the consequent frustration of auction houses and the art market, he left us so many bad paintings mixed up with all the good ones. In a lecture given at the Hay Festival this year, Germaine Greer contended that, out of the estimated 30,000 paintings produced by Nolan, only a thousand could be any good – simply because no artist, however great, could paint more than a thousand great paintings in a lifetime – it was simply beyond the bounds of human capability.2 Most artists self-edit, destroying work that they consider to be second rate, or getting assistants to do it for them, even when these ‘second rate’ works would certainly fetch high prices if ever they were allowed to reach the market. Leaving aside the paintings he sold, it would seem that Nolan kept everything he did; perhaps because each series of paintings, in its entirety, comprised a visual journal that the artist could later look back on and re-visit, documenting the development and (ultimately) exhaustion, of an idea. Destroying a single painting from the series would be like tearing out a page from a journal.


Andrew Turley’s recent book A day by day guide to the Adelaide Ladies, gives both a complete, illustrated record of one of Nolan’s paintings series and also an excellent exposition on Nolan’s working processes. For Nolan, Turley observes, ‘quantity was a by-product of speed … In Sidney’s mind, speed eliminated contrivance, leaving pure emotion and unadulterated visual impulse.’3 This somewhat unorthodox approach to making is something I will return to later, since it helps to explain the appeal that Nolan’s work had to British critics – especially Bryan Robertson, in the 1950s and 1960s.


During his lifetime, Nolan deservedly succeeded in achieving that rare, elusive and, today much over-used epithet of ‘international artist’. In 1960, just ten years after Sidney Nolan’s departure from Australia, the author and poet Stephen Spender felt confident to describe him as ‘an example of a world artist’. ‘It is not just that he travels widely’, Spender continued, ‘and has a seemingly inexhaustible visual appetite for many countries, but that he also has a world consciousness.’4 Reading these lines from Spender’s introduction to Nolan’s Leda and the Swan exhibition at London’s Matthiesen Gallery we are reminded of just how quickly Nolan became recognised as an artist of international reputation and achievement, and the prestige he enjoyed, not only in London, but also abroad. His name appeared regularly on the hoardings of West End galleries alongside those of Bacon, Moore and Pasmore, while his exhibitions were discussed and debated on radio and television by eminent critics such as Bryan Robertson, Charles S. Spencer and David Sylvester.


But in Britain today, Nolan is primarily considered an Australian artist rather than as the international artist as he was once so frequently described. Why has Australian identity come to dominate the discourse whenever Nolan or his work are under review, even though England was Nolan’s more or less permanent home for more than forty years? One reason for this shift in Nolan’s reputation is possibly the central role that self-identity has come to play in the work of contemporary artists worldwide. Perhaps though, this is not quite such a recent phenomenon since, in the early 1960s, when Australian contemporary painting was at the height of its popularity in London and when group shows of Australian art proliferated, a younger generation of Australian painters such as Brett Whiteley, newly arrived from overseas and no doubt envious of Nolan’s British success, would goad Nolan to declare his allegiance. Was he Australian or British? Nolan confounded them all by simply describing himself as ‘Earthling’.5 Wonderful put-down though this was, it fails to acknowledge the fact that for Nolan, Australia was the grit in the oyster necessary to make the pearl. ‘My framework is Australia,’ Nolan later admitted:


all the more powerful and supporting since I left Australia ten years ago. It is the central force in my work, whatever subject concerns me at the time. … This is not so, for instance, with Brett Whiteley, and the post-war generation. He doesn’t go to bed, so to speak, thinking of Wagga Wagga. It’s more likely to be Arezzo and Piero della Francesca which represents his development.6


Three figures were key to establishing Nolan’s critical reputation in Britain: art connoisseur Sir Kenneth (later Lord) Clark, gallery director and critic Bryan Robertson, and author and essayist Colin MacInnes. They were all contributors to the Thames and Hudson monograph Sidney Nolan published in 1961.7 Clark’s personal ‘discovery’ of Nolan during a trip to Australia in 1949 is well documented and need not be elaborated upon here, except to say that it was Clark’s friend the art historian Joseph Burke who was actually responsible for alerting Clark to Nolan’s talents several months before his departure for Australia.8 Another fact frequently glossed over is Clark’s failure to realize the promise made to Nolan at his Wahroonga studio offering him an exhibition if he ever came to London. When, despite Clark’s recommendation to the Leicester Gallery, Nolan was turned down there for a show, it was eventually Nolan’s wife Cynthia who stepped into the breach and secured him a show in a three-person exhibition at the Redfern Gallery where her old Sydney friend Harry Tatlock Miller was co-director.9 But these details are not to understate Clark’s immense importance and cultural influence in post-war Britain, and the life long support he gave Nolan.


Clark felt that in Nolan he had come across ‘a natural painter’ with ‘a fresh way of seeing’ a new and extraordinary country. Nolan’s paintings had impressed Clark partly because they were underpinned by such a sure sense of tonality, achieved in large part through the use of Ripolin enamel on board, a medium that enabled colours to be modulated and blended together quickly and easily to create form and distance. Clark’s first encounter with Nolan’s painting was timely in the sense that it reinforced ideas that he was currently formulating into a book about landscape painting. The final chapter of Clark’s Landscape into Art (1949) encapsulates the zeitgeist of the immediate post-war period, and betrays Clark’s own deeply felt sense of fatalism about the recent horrors of concentration camps and the atomic bomb.10 At a deeper level, Clark’s enthusiasm for Australian painting, and for Nolan’s work in particular, can be seen within the context of his views about the state of contemporary art in Europe in the post-war period. Clark wrote: ‘it may now seem that the extremely esoteric and specialized work which meets with the approval of the few is so lacking in fundamental humanity that it will die of inbreeding. This is a tenable view, but I believe it to be mistaken.’11


After Nolan’s move to England, Clark continued to affirm his confidence in his talent by regularly buying paintings and lending them back to major exhibitions when needed. They enjoyed a lifelong friendship. Sidney and Cynthia were regular visitors to Clark’s home at Saltwood and in his autobiography Clark predicted that ‘When time has weeded out [Nolan’s] colossal output and the didactic snobbery of abstract art has declined, he will be of even greater renown.’12


Although Kenneth Clark and Sidney Nolan shared a friendship of remarkable longevity, it was arguably Bryan Robertson who was more significant in consolidating Nolan’s reputation in Britain. Appointed as Director of the Whitechapel Gallery in 1952, Robertson saw that his mission was to enrich the lives of those living in the East End with an eclectic mixture of lively, life-affirming art. In Robertson’s view, much of the best painting being produced in the post-war years, both in Britain and overseas was abstract, but Nolan’s unique form of figuration was a notable exception.


To understand Robertson’s appreciation for Nolan’s work is key to understanding the central position that Nolan came to hold within the British art world. For a retrospective exhibition held in 1979 at the Arts Centre, New Metropole, Folkestone, Robertson wrote a catalogue introduction in which he compared Nolan’s painting to the ‘poetic imagery and atmosphere’ of Aaron Copland’s music. Nolan’s work had ‘certain energetic qualities that relate to popular art’. Robertson continued:


some of his paintings bring to mind the properties and style of the very best, most alive and intelligent pictorial journalism, or cinematic images projected onto a wide screen in Technicolor. Projection is an operative word in this context, for there is something about Nolan’s work … which makes you forget about painting as painting in the first impact of its imagery. His pictures seem to be imaginative projections instantaneously realized with no sign of labour or contrivance, almost like lantern slides flashed onto a white background … At their true level, as paintings, these pictures are extraordinarily beautiful and compelling and Nolan often manages to synthesize a sweet, muscular lyricism with a singularly rich and dynamic handling of thin pigment.13


Within this description is discernible Robertson’s critical opposition to the dreary, dun-coloured impasto of so much post-war British figurative painting, where the artists’ almost willful dedication to hard-slog and abstinence from colour was like a perpetuation of wartime rationing and austerity. In the late 1970s many London art schools still taught that a painting couldn’t be any good without a struggle. Nolan’s flickering images which, to Robertson, seemed to be instantaneously conjured up ‘with no sign of labour or contrivance’ were the perfect antidote to all that post-war gloom.


In A Guide to the Ladies, Andrew Turley provides us with some telling insights into the artist’s ‘instantaneous’ (Nolan’s own choice of word) way of working:


I put everything on the fact that I’ll get it right, but sometimes I don’t … if you don’t get it right like that, then there is no second chance … I don’t overwork [the paintings] much, just discard them and keep them. I’m just as fond of them as the others.


Here then, is a crucial difference. Unlike Francis Bacon, who famously spoke of the role of chance in his work, and who was equally famous for destroying a great number of paintings which he deemed failures, Nolan kept all his failures and, moreover, claimed to be just as fond of them as he was of his successes. In a review of Bacon’s 1962 exhibition at the Tate Gallery, art critic Eric Newton wrote of the artist’s ‘uninhibited fearlessness, an unquestioning acceptance of the imagery offered to him by the deeper recesses of his unconscious mind.’14 In a way very different to Francis Bacon, there must have been in Nolan’s own deliberately spontaneous way of working, an attempt to tap his unconscious mind.


An interest in the subconscious, a legacy of Sigmund Freud, is a thread common to nearly all the arts of Britain and Europe in the later 20th century. Authors and poets employed methods such as automatic writing15 and ‘stream of consciousness’ writing16 in an attempt to draw on their subconscious. And in the late 1950s and early 1960s, William S. Burroughs popularized another literary technique known as the ‘cut-up’ to free up the creative process. Turley suggests that Nolan’s way of working was partly inspired by the poet Rimbaud, but I would not want to overstate a literary parallel in Nolan’s work, except to say that Nolan’s own brand of speedy execution was his way of putting down that instinctual first vision, in the full strength of its impact, before it could be alloyed with too much rational thought. Today we might call it using the right side (nonverbal and intuitive) of the brain, but in 1978, Nolan merely spoke of being ‘compelled and dedicated to transmitting emotions’ through his art practice and caring for very little else:


I care for that process so much that I’m prepared to belt the paint across the canvas much faster than it should be belted: I don’t care so long as I can get the emotional communication I will sacrifice everything to it – and that I’ve done.17


In 1957, to mark Nolan’s fortieth birthday, Bryan Robertson arranged a large retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery. As a climax to the show Nolan created thirty new paintings (each 4ft x 5ft) known as the Mrs. Fraser series, in the (then) relatively new medium of Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) on hardboard. These paintings immediately became the focus of much critical attention. Clark led the way in buying Convict and Billabong, while other paintings were acquired by prominent academics or literary figures such as C. P. Snow, Stephen Spender and Alan Ross. Robertson bought Leda for himself and the Tate and the Arts Council of Great Britain both acquired a painting for their permanent collections.


Robertson made sure that the show was supported and documented by a substantial catalogue that would attract critics from the West End and promote sales to wealthy buyers. The catalogue has a lengthy introduction written by Colin MacInnes, who had previously spent ten years in Australia. The choice of MacInnes to write about painting – a novelist who would soon become better known as the author of City of Spades (1957) and Absolute Beginners (1959) – is significant because it highlights the literary appeal of Nolan’s work. Entitled Sidney Nolan: The Search for an Australian Myth, MacInnes’s introduction begins with a description of the Australian landscape that is riddled with clichés and then proceeds to a series of subheadings under which each of the nine major themes of Nolan’s work are discussed.18 While Australian folklore subjects featured prominently in the first section of the exhibition, it is clear that Nolan was searching for new myths to illustrate since the show contained forty-three studies on paper on European themes ranging from Italian landscape to Greek islands, fauns, nymphs and warriors. Most are explained by the fact that Nolan had recently returned from a winter spent on the Greek Island of Hydra where he had begun to meld together in his head associations between Australia and classical Greece. Critics and private collectors, many of whom had benefitted from a classical education and university degrees were, naturally enough, drawn to Nolan’s contemporary treatment of mythical themes such as Leda and the Swan, Icarus & Daedalus and Daedalus and the Minotaur. These paintings readily offer themselves up to interpretation in terms of allegory and metaphor – terms that have an obvious literary derivation. Critics at the time were readily drawn to Nolan’s work because it could be enjoyed and explored in literary fashion: Ut pictura poesis. On a more prosaic level, author and poet Al Alvarez’s claim that the English are hopelessly addicted to literature and bored by painterly values seems to offer an explanation for the circumstances of Nolan’s rapid rise to fame and fortune in England. The English were drawn to Nolan’s work because ‘It seemed possible for them once again to discuss paintings without ever quite discussing paint.’19


But at the same time there was (and is) something undeniably luscious and seductive about Nolan’s handling of paint: a perfect concealment of effort whereby forms are rubbed, smoothed, coaxed and squeegeed into existence using Ripolin enamel or Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA). In the Leda and Mrs. Fraser paintings shown at the Whitechapel retrospective, Nolan exploits our perception or will to form in a way that is analogous to Rorschach blot diagrams, not only in terms of their masterful handling of medium, where forms appear and recede from view, but also in the artist’s invitation to us to read the content of his imagery in personal symbolic terms. And to some, the multivalent quality of Nolan’s Leda and Mrs. Fraser series appealed on yet another, psychoanalytical level. Julian Hall, writing for Truth, described Mrs. Fraser as ‘a tiny white human entity beneath a cataclysmic onrush of jungle green … half submerged in swamps so that she becomes one with the absorbing element.’ A private collector, who bought Figures and Lilypool from the Whitechapel show, wrote enthusiastically to Bryan Robertson:


We are excited to have it & I feel sure it will affect out lives. … I admired your thoughtful essay for Guy’s [Hospital Gazette] and (as an amateur psychiatrist) agree on the desirability of letting to the surface one’s ‘latent sensuality’. But I think I’m with the groundlings in finding difficulty in looking at any work of art simply as a object in itself – I think the subject, the thing seen by the eye (inner or outer) & reproduced for another eye to see again, must be important. How he does it is the artist’s affair, but he can’t paint nothing – though some artists seem to get very near it.20


Colin MacInnes on the other hand, thought the Mrs Fraser paintings could contain something of an allegory about Britain’s relationship with Australia:

‘Mrs. Fraser might represent the alien white-skinned English woman and Bracewell is the original founding convict Australian, who is betrayed by the alien English’, he suggested.21 In point of fact, the Mrs Fraser paintings had a much more personal significance for Nolan, and are, at least partly, the working out of feelings of betrayal he felt following the end of his relationship with Sunday Reed at Heide. But Nolan never revealed this openly nor did he confirm or refute MacInnes’s interpretation; seen, as it was, through the lens of his own interests in decolonization and its aftermath. Mid 1950s Britain was fast becoming a much more culturally diverse and racially mixed society and MacInnes had begun to explore the multi-cultural manifestations of being British in a series of articles for Encounter and New Left Review that were subsequently re-published in the book England, Half English.22 The possibility that a Commonwealth artist could re-define what it was to be British in the 1950s and create a new hybrid identity for himself was still largely a new one. Nolan seemed to offer a new possibility for British art: one that conflated European myth with Australian history and folklore.


In July 1958, exactly a year after his momentous Whitechapel Gallery show, Nolan arrived in New York with Cynthia and their daughter Jinx to take up a two-year Harkness Fellowship. Their time in America is vividly recorded in Cynthia’s Open Negative: an American Memoir, published in 1967. Cynthia, near-crippled with sciatica, was a somewhat reluctant travelling companion as they crisscrossed the continent in a cream and crimson Chevrolet station wagon. While Sidney enjoyed soaking up the sun so that his ‘face and arms were reddened, his back splotched and speckled like a plover’s egg.’23 Cynthia lay flat amongst the luggage in the back of the car with excruciating back pain, growing ennui and a debilitating cough that would later land her in hospital with suspected tuberculosis. Reading Open Negative, it is evident that Nolan was not much interested in sight-seeing, and though he considered the desert landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico ‘almost as good as Australia’, he did not want the American landscape to impinge too much on his sense of the Australian:


But I wouldn’t want to live anywhere for very long. Would you? … No that would only complicate it, have it interfere with my Australian thing. I just want to add America on, as I’ve added on India, Persia and other places; that’s enough.24


Aside from an account of their time in America, Open Negative offers a fascinating insight into Nolan’s working methods and inspiration. Back in New York towards the end of September, the Nolans found a studio-bedroom to rent in Greenwich Village with a view of the Empire State Building. Cynthia records how they bought a large screen which was unfolded by the head of her bed to provide a little privacy from the studio area of their cramped accommodation. Sidney ‘sat down at his work table, pulled out a piece of paper, looked at it, picked up a brush, stuck out his tongue, frowned and began to work.’25 Meanwhile, Cynthia retired to bed, pulled a rug over her feet and tried to read.


Nolan was the kind of artist who carried his artistic world around in his head. Cynthia relates how he would paint on the floor, working either on 12 x 10 inch sheets of shiny, kaolin-prepared paper or on 4 x 5 feet sheets of hardboard. When using board, he would sweep on Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) until the whole surface was thickly covered with paint. Then, with a short-handled squeegee, he would continue, ‘slashing and wiping, cornering and circling like a skater, until another painting was completed.’26 At other times, working speedily and instinctively on the prepared paper that he always carried with him, Cynthia watched as Sidney dashed off sketch after sketch of Mrs Fraser:


… she was a feminine presence, pale in a dark forest pool … And again she appeared, this time beside a black and white striped figure, the convict who dreamed he had rescued her, cherished her through wilderness and jungle, until she finally betrayed him. … Sidney was making sotto voce remarks as he used his fingers, a brush, crayons, a rag, then held the page firmly, burnishing it with one of his best handkerchiefs. … Now he was muttering, ‘It’s like a bird, going like a bird. I’m full of paint, everywhere. Tell me the names of some flowers, quick.27


When he was ‘having a run’, Nolan would work late into the night, painting Leda and the Swan, over and over again, as he attempted to disgorge the image from his head onto paper or board. Cynthia writes that ‘sometimes the woman was bloody, the swan very savage. Often the figure was ambiguous incidental unidentified, the swan was not.’28


Cynthia’s crucial contribution to Nolan’s creative process is often overlooked. She was at one and the same time, muse, critic, documenter and audience. Sidney depended on her as a sounding board when he was ‘having a run’ and throughout the whole time that Cynthia was in hospital with suspected tuberculosis, he found it impossible to paint. ‘You need to be sparked off by somebody’, he is recorded as saying, ‘because you don’t believe it makes sense, out of yourself.’29


A photograph from 1957 shows Nolan standing in his Putney studio, studying a painting of Mrs Fraser through the wrong end of a pair of opera glasses.30 It is a trick sometimes used by painters to get a different perspective on an over-familiar work that they wish to see again with fresh eyes.



Sidney Nolan in his Putney studio, 1957. Photo by Douglas Glass (c) JCC Glass, courtesy Lou Klepac and Barry Pearce.


There is no doubt that Nolan had that rare gift – to see the world differently and from afar. Scientists have shown us that we are born seeing the world upside down until the brain learns to process the sensory data and turn it into a coherent image. In a sense, it was Nolan’s Australian-ness that gave him the ability to show those of us living in Britain the world as it might be glimpsed for the first time, and allow for us to re-configure it for ourselves. During the 1950-60s Nolan’s art was enjoyed most by those who identified with the artist’s search for a universal statement about life. In conversation with the British critic Charles S. Spencer in 1964, Nolan made reference to the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and his ‘hope that before dying he would say something definitive about life – not any specific aspect, sex, human relations, or social or political conditions, but about the stuff of life, it’s totality.’ Nolan had begun life as an author and poet. In later life he admitted that as a young man without a university education he had found it easier to become a painter than a writer. The catalogue introduction of African Journey, his first solo show at Marlborough Fine Art, is almost exclusively given up to a discussion of Rimbaud’s years in Africa and his influence on Nolan. Kenneth Clark later observed that Nolan ‘set out in his youth to be a second Rimbaud, and even though his natural gentleness has denied him this furious vocation, his mind is full of subversive ideas worthy of his model.’31 Perhaps therein lies the key to understanding Nolan. He was (and always will be) a poet’s painter.






Simon Pierse is Senior Lecturer Emeritus at Aberystwyth University. He grew up in London and first came across the work of Sidney Nolan in the early 1970s when, as a school boy, his art teacher gave him the 1961 Clark/MacInnes/Robertson monograph to look at. Pierse has published widely on Australian post-war painting and is author of Australian art and artists in London 1950-1965: an antipodean summer, published in 2012 by Ashgate and reissued in paperback by Routledge in 2016. His recent research focuses on British perceptions of Australian art and identity and he is currently working on the life of Australian expatriate art dealer and curator Alannah Coleman.





  1. Thomas Keneally, in Australia, curated by Anne Gray, Ron Radford and Kathleen Soriano, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21 September – 8 December 2013, p. 31, see also p. 299.

  2. Germaine Greer, ‘The Sidney Nolan Centenary’, Tuesday 30 May 2017, Hay-on-Wye.

  3.  Andrew Turley, A day-by-day guide to the Adelaide Ladies, 59 works by Sidney Nolan, 27 April 1964 to 11 June 1964, privately printed in an edition of 75 copies, 2017, p. 8.

  4.  Stephen Spender, Introduction to Sidney Nolan: Leda and the Swan and other Recent Work, The Matthiesen Gallery, London, 16 June – 16 July 1960 (no pagination).

  5.  See Barry Pearce, ‘Nolan’s Parallel Universe’, in Sidney Nolan, curated by Barry Pearce with contributions from Edmund Capon, Frances Lindsay and Lou Klepac, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2 November 2007 – 3 February 2008 (and tour), p. 54.

  6. See ‘Speaking with Sidney Nolan, the Australian heroic dream’, by Charles S. Spencer, in Studio International, vol. 168, no. 859, November 1964, pp. 205-9.

  7.  Kenneth Clark, Colin MacInnes and Bryan Robertson, Sidney Nolan, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1961).

  8.  See Simon Pierse, Australian art and artists in London 1950-1965: an Antipodean summer, (Farnham & Vermont: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 2-5.

  9.  Sidney Nolan, Sylvia Gosse, Vera Cunningham, French Paintings, Redfern Gallery London, 11 January – 3 February 1951. Nolan’s paintings were hung in Room 1.

  10.  Kenneth Clark, Landscape into Art, (London: John Murray, 1949).

  11.  Clark, Landscape into Art, p.133.

  12.  Kenneth Clark, The Other Half, a Self-Portrait, (London and New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1977), p. 195.

  13.  Bryan Robertson, preface to Sidney Nolan: 1937-1979, Arts Centre, New Metropole, The Leas, Folkestone, 5 May – 3 June 1979 (no pagination). Parts of this introduction are drawn from Robertson’s Preface to the 1957 Whitechapel Gallery exhibition catalogue.

  14.  Eric Newton, ‘Mortal Conflict’, the Guardian, 24 May 1962.

  15.  For example: Surrealist poet André Breton (1896-1966).

  16.  For example: T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner and others.

  17. See Nancy Underhill (ed.), Nolan on Nolan: Sidney Nolan in his own words, (Camberwell, VIC: Viking/Penguin Books, 2007), pp. 238-9.

  18.  Colin MacInnes, ‘Sidney Nolan: The Search for an Australian Myth’, Sidney Nolan: Catalogue of an exhibition of paintings from 1947-1957, Whitechapel Gallery, London, June – July 1957, pp. 9-17.

  19.  Al. Alvarez, ‘The Paintings of Charles Blackman: The Substance of Dreams’, Studio International, September 1965.

  20.  Letter from Dr. Abrahams, Wanstead, London to Bryan Robertson, 11th July 1957. Sales: WAG/EXH/2/51/3.

  21.  MacInnes in conversation with Nolan, a discussion broadcast on the BBC Third Programme on 11th July 1957.

  22.  Colin MacInnes, England, Half English, (London: Macgibbon & Kee, 1961).

  23.  Cynthia Nolan, Open Negative: an American Memoir, (London: Macmillan, 1967), p. 64.

  24.  Nolan, Open Negative, p. 54.

  25.  Nolan, Open Negative, p. 97.

  26.  Nolan, Open Negative, p. 224.

  27.  Nolan, Open Negative, p. 91.

  28.  Nolan, Open Negative, p. 224.

  29.  Nolan, Open Negative, p. 224.

  30.  Sidney Nolan: Catalogue of an exhibition of paintings from 1947-1957, Whitechapel Gallery London June – July 1957, p. 29.

  31.  Clark, The Other Half, p. 195.

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