Sir Sidney Nolan was one of the most revered and prolific artists to come from Australia and some of his best-known works comprise distinctive portraits depicting legends from the country's history – most notably those of infamous bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly. As we enter the centenary of his birth, however, a programme of events celebrating his legacy will take place around the UK, focusing primarily on his time living and working in the country he called home from the 1950s until his death in 1992.
The programme kicks off digitally on 26 January, Australia Day. For the occasion, 100 individuals have each chosen one of the artist's works, offering their personal insights into the significance of the piece, which will be shared on the Sidney Nolan Trust website and on its Instagram page.
Throughout the year, there's plenty of opportunity to see some of his most seminal works in person in locations around England. These include The Rodd, Nolan's studio at his home in Herefordshire, which has remained untouched since his death and will be open to the public for the first time this May. As well as offering a new insight into the creative workings of the artist, from 24 to 29 August the gallery on-site will display rarely seen paintings.
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Before then, a number of his most recognisable images – including that of Ned Kelly – will be on display as part of a major exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, which runs from 19 February until 4 June. Transferences: Sidney Nolan in Britain traces the recurrent themes, such as Australian history, literature and mythology, seen throughout his work, as well as exploring his love of music and theatre, as exemplified by the set designs and costumes he created for the Royal Ballet's 1962 production of The Rite of Spring.
Marking what would have been his 100th birthday on 22 April, the Australian High Commission in London will host the exhibition Unseen: Works From The Sidney Nolan Trust Collection – the majority of which has never been shown in public before – which runs from 21 April until 5 May. This will be followed on 15 June by a display at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, until 3 September, focusing on the spray-painted portraits favoured by the artist towards the end of his career.
The programme culminates in a major showcase of his Back of Beyond series at the British Museum from November until January 2018. The striking drawings were inspired by his trip to the Australian outback during the filming of the 1952 documentary of the same name, confronting the harsh realities of the drought-stricken environment.
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