Kelly in town

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Tanya MacNaughton

The Art Gallery of WA is the first stop for a trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tion of paint­ings from Can­berra’s Na­tional Col­lec­tion by Sid­ney Nolan of Ned Kelly.

NA­TIONAL Gallery of Aus­tralia di­rec­tor Nick Mitze­vich is still count­ing in days how long he has been work­ing in his new role.

The to­tal was at 25 when in Perth for a whirl­wind 24 hours to open trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tion Sid­ney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Se­ries at Art Gallery of WA and he feels priv­i­leged by the re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“What I think is re­ally com­pelling about look­ing af­ter the Na­tional Col­lec­tion is that you have a na­tional di­a­logue with art and the rest of the coun­try,” he said.

“One of the most im­por­tant man­dates of the Na­tional Col­lec­tion is to share it with Australians re­gard­less of where they live.

“This Nolan ex­hi­bi­tion is a great ex­am­ple of us tak­ing some­thing that is an iconic part of the col­lec­tion and putting it on the road. It will be shown in five venues across Aus­tralia over the next 12 months and we’re proud to launch it in Perth.”

Sid­ney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Se­ries fea­tures 27 art­works ac­quired by NGA; the first was Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringy­bark Creek (1946) in 1972.

“Then great bene­fac­tor to the Na­tional Gallery, Sun­day Reed, do­nated many works and we started grow­ing our Nolan col­lec­tion,” Mitze­vich said.

“We have hundreds of Nolans in our col­lec­tion but this is the iconic se­ries. Nolan was an ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ry­teller and he took his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and weaved that with leg­end and myth to cre­ate this evoca­tive se­ries that cel­e­brates an anti-hero, an out­law. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­ment that cap­tures a mo­ment of Aus­tralian his­tory through this evoca­tive lens.”

Mitze­vich said Kelly’s fame came out of the Aus­tralian love of the un­der­dog.

“What’s in­ter­est­ing is that you’re not sure of Nolan’s moral stance on whether Ned Kelly was the hero or the crim­i­nal,” he said.

“When you look into his eyes in that hel­met, they look kind of sad and Nolan de­picts Ned Kelly in some ways as a tragic fig­ure.”­mu­ni­ d485598 Pic­ture: Andrew Ritchie

Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia di­rec­tor Nick Mitze­vich and Art Gallery of WA di­rec­tor Ste­fano Car­boni.

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