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Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly series

  • Art Gallery of WA Perth Cultural Centre Roe St Perth (map)

rom 1946-47, Nolan developed an original and starkly simplified image of Ned Kelly, which quickly became a national symbol—part of the shared iconography of Australia. Together, these 26 paintings provide a masterclass on Australian art history that relay the development of a new tradition of figurative and landscape painting in Australian art.

NGA Head of Australian Art Dr Deborah Hart says, “Nolan’s depiction of Kelly as a black form set against a stark Australian landscape revolutionised the way we imagine this national antihero. Ned Kelly only wore his homemade helmet toward the end of the drama, but for Nolan it was a vital, symbolic device from beginning to end. The helmet is a frame within the frame. The visor is a viewfinder – a slot to be seen through. This image has been replicated in popular culture and has inspired many artists through to the present day. It is a series that will inspire visitors of all ages and is not to be missed.”

There are a number of special events planned, including a lecture series, guided tours, an after hours curator tour and a historical banquet dinner, as well as mask-masking family fun in the Imagination Room July-September. Visit the website for details.

image credit - Sidney Nolan
Ned Kelly 1946
from the Ned Kelly series 1946 – 1947
enamel paint on composition board
90.80 x 121.50 cm
Gift of Sunday Reed 1977
National Gallery of Australia collection


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Later Event: August 16