• The rabbiters

    The rabbiters (1947)

    Russell DRYSDALE

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  • Central Australia

    Central Australia 1949

    Sidney NOLAN

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    Central Australia 1949 is one of a series of landscapes that follow an intense period of travel by Sidney Nolan across Australia. This aerial view of the central desert, which demonstrates the influence of photography, depicts the long ridges of the Macdonnell Ranges painted in dull red and brown in contrast to the light blue sky. While the painting has a documentary-like quality, the apparent endlessness and the monotony develop into a dreamlike world where it appears that no human could exist.

    Using red ochre oil and synthetic polymer paint on composition board, Nolan employed a dry brush technique and finger painting. He swept the paint over a white ground, the broken parts revealing some of the underpainting. This gives the mountain range a feeling of changing light and reveals the geography of the landscape, against which Nolan contrasts the opaque pink central Australian sky.

  • Irrigation lake, Wimmera

    Irrigation lake, Wimmera (1950)

    Arthur BOYD

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  • Journey into the you beaut country no. 1

    Journey into the you beaut country no. 1 1961

    John OLSEN

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  • Trees in landscape

    Trees in landscape (1981)

    Fred WILLIAMS

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Australian artists have travelled, explored and observed a diversity of Australian landscapes, creating highly personal interpretations of the environment.

  • Artists exploring the landscape

    In 1934, Russell Drysdale travelled through the drought-affected areas of New South Wales, recording his impressions of the devastation. This experience contributed significantly to his life-long fascination with the Australian landscape and its people.

    The rabbiters 1947 depicts two figures amid an ancient eroded valley surrounded by monumental cliffs and boulders. It’s an environment full of contradictions and mysteries; light emanates from the whole scene yet the rabbiters with their black shadows are illuminated from another, almost theatrical light source.

    Sidney Nolan also travelled extensively throughout Australia and became well known for his paintings of central Australia. Central Australia 1949 presents a bird's-eye view of the sinuous mountain ridges of the Macdonnell Ranges, the countryside laid out around them like a vast contour map.

  • The Wimmera, Victoria

    Irrigation lake, Wimmera 1950 is Arthur Boyd's response to the vast horizon and bright light of this wheat district in Victoria. A waterhole, a precious sight in a semi-arid land, slowly evaporates under the hot sun. It is fringed by dead tree trunks that remind us of the harsh and unforgiving climate of this area. The land is inhabited by farmers, cattle, sheep, cockatoos and crows, while in the background a series of rolling hills meet a brilliant blue sky.

  • ‘You Beaut Country’

    For John Olsen, the substance of paint and the act of painting were never sufficient in themselves; his work, he believed, needed to evoke a strong connection with the environment – with a sense of place.

    Journey into the You Beaut Country No.1 1961 takes the viewer on an exploratory, painterly journey into a landscape of memory and imagination. The painted forms of this landscape include signs of plants, birds and animals against a thin, sky-coloured background. This is a landscape of discovery where observation rewards us with an abundance of bush life. Olsen involves us in the mystery, excitement and discovery of the bush.

  • The Pilbara, Western Australia

    Fred Williams first visited the Pilbara – a remote area in Australia’s far north-west – in May 1979 and was instantly inspired by the unique qualities of this ‘new’ landscape. By mid June, Williams had produced almost 100 gouaches of the area, encompassing the stunning gorges and spectacular mountains he found within the landscape.

    The distillation of Williams’s physical and emotional experience of the Pilbara continued in the paintings, which he produced some two years later, including this work, Trees in Landscape 1981. The paintings adopt close-up and aerial views, propelling us into and across the landscape.

    Large in scale and striking in colour, they are powerfully evocative of the Pilbara and in many ways operate as both symbolic and representational depictions of inland Australia.

Endnotes