The perfectly-preserved UK studio of artist Sidney Nolan has opened to the public for the first time ever this summer to mark his 100th birthday.
Melbourne-born Nolan is best known for portraits of 19th-century outlaw Ned Kelly and other legends from Australian history. He moved to Britain in 1951, and after his death in 1992, his widow closed the doors to his Herefordshire studio, leaving everything inside just as he left it.
Visitors can make a pilgrimage to Nolan’s 250-acre farm – known as The Rodd and operated by the Sidney Nolan Trust – until 29 August, where they can look inside the artist’s studio, and see a special exhibition of his rarely shown works.
Items on display include boxes of paints and PVA glue, a WWII Vickers machine gun case, a fish in formaldehyde and Nolan’s paintbrushes – still in their jars.
Nolan used the adjoining barn to work on larger scale pieces, creating a special suspended platform from the eaves so that he could work on his horizontal canvases below.
‘He would turn up the music and get an assistant to pull him around on this sledge suspended in the air, so he could reach all areas of the canvas,’ says Anthony Plant, the director of the Sidney Nolan Trust.
While the The Rodd is usually closed to the public, it has been hosting artists’ residencies in a modern barn on the estate for years. The trust has launched a £2.3m fundraising campaign to refurbish it – along with a number of 17th-century barns on the farm – as art studios, and create ‘an international centre of artistic practice, research and engagement’.
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