- Media category
- Materials used
- oil on linen
- 150.5 x 260.0 x 3.5 cm
- Purchased with funds provided by Anita Belgiorno-Nettis AM and Luca Belgiorno-Nettis AM 2021
- Not on display
- Accession number
- © Jude Rae
- Sir John Sulman Prize
- - 2021
- Artist information
Works in the collection
‘On the beach (Malua Bay, NYE 2019)’ depicts a crowd of people and a horse gathered on a beach at Malua Bay on the south coast of NSW, on New Year’s Eve 2019. In an attempt to shelter from a catastrophic bushfire, more than a thousand people stood on the beach, hemmed in by a ring of fire and the Pacific Ocean.
This image used in this painting was inspired by a photograph posted to Instagram by photographer Alex Coppel. Jude Rae was struck by the power of the image, and the way it reminded her of great paintings of the past.
‘It was as if Breughel met Titian or Velasquez, but there were other art historical ghosts as well - the group in the centre foreground reminded me of Manet’s ‘Dejeuner sur L’Herbe’; the teenager to their left is like the classic Renaissance "figure in the crowd” that looks straight at the viewer; and the little boy with the water bottle is a reversal of one of Seurat’s bathers (hands to mouth waist deep in the Seine).’ – Jude Rae 2021
Alex Coppel agreed to Rae using his image as a source for a painting; in doing so, she put aside her usual practice of first-hand experience of a subject or using her own photographs or sketches in preparation. She started painting in February 2020 just as the fires had eased off and a new threat, COVID-19 was staring to emerge, and worked on it, on and off, for an entire year.
‘On the beach (Malua Bay, NYE 2019)’ is a contemporary work within a long tradition of history painting. Rae's decision to enter the work in the 2021 Sulman Prize was prompted by a need to remember:
‘The title of the painting refers to the 1957 novel by Nevil Shute, which is set in Melbourne
following a nuclear war. While nuclear conflict is still a threat, the world now faces the reality of global warming. COVID-19 bears down on us, but we must not forget the fires and other ecological crises that threaten Australia with the onset of climate change.’ - Jude Rae 2021
This work was a finalist in the Sulman Prize 2021.
Other works by Jude Rae
See all 8 works