We spent almost a month in Melbourne last year. My husband, who is Australian, was lecturing at the University and the children and I joined him. It was here I fell in love with Sidney Nolan. I’m not the only one. Nicole Kidman named her daughter after Sidney’s benefactress and lover, Sunday Reed.
The National Gallery of Victoria exhibited a huge range of his work and I was mesmerized by it all: landscapes, portraits, abstracts. In his Ned Kelly series he captured the sandy yellow bush, the orange dusty earth and the aggressive blue sky. In short the harshness of the extraordinary landscape in Victoria state around Melbourne.
It is this land that is so sadly on fire this week.
Sidney Nolan was a painter who sought to paint the idea of Australia and once wrote about the relationship with the land around him.
“It is possible in the case of an Australian that even though you are reared in a city out there, you’re liable to feel when the hot north wind blows that the city would be blown away and that you would be faced with this kind of interminable, extraoridanry bush landscape which goes on forever. So that even if one had a completely urban upbringing, there always was and there still is a terrific sense of primeval landscape stretching on forever.
Australia, my heartfelt condolences.