ANZAC Day: Sidney Nolan’s Gallipoli

Sidney Nolan (1917–1992) was one of Australia’s most complex, innovative, and prolific artists. In 1978 Nolan presented the Gallipoli series to the Australian War Memorial. These 252 drawings and paintings, completed over a 20-year period, were donated in memory of his brother Raymond, a soldier who died in a tragic accident just before the end of the Second World War. Gallipoli was a theme to which Nolan constantly returned throughout his artistic career.

Nolan’s Gallipoli portraits represent an attempt to define the Australian national character. They provide timeless images of the ANZACs: the young and the old, the innocent and the war-weary, the bushman and the city-dweller.
The paintings in Nolan’s Gallipoli series that depict landscapes are a fusion of both the real and the imaginary. The landscape that Nolan would have seen when he visited Gallipoli was dominated by an impenetrable growth of thorny shrubs, similar to what visitors can see today. Then and now, the dry escarpments above ANZAC Cove are much as they were in 1915, and from Chunuk Bair, the undulating ridges and gullies unfold themselves. But Nolan’s landscapes are also poetic evocations, a lament for a place where so many lives were lost.

Special screenings of this collection scheduled throughout the day on ANZAC Day 25 April 2019, Perth Cultural Centre Screen & Northbridge Piazza Screen.

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