Pretty Polly Mine
22 Apr 1917 - 28 Nov 1992
One of a series of 'Outback' paintings made following a trip to Queensland and Fraser Island in 1947, 'Pretty Polly Mine' - with its haunting, desolate remains of a once prosperous past - was the first of Nolan's works to be acquired by any public gallery, together with 'Carron Plains'.
Painted from memories of a visit to a deserted Mt Isa mine, the stiff, dark-suited figure wandering the ramshackle structures is based on the mine manager the artist met there, who:
'... liked feeding birds every morning. Everyone thought he was bonkers, but he fed the birds, rosellas and all.'
- Sidney Nolan 1978
Nolan's concept of the Australian landscape is interwoven with its history, legends and the psyche of its inhabitants, producing works which are often surreal in character.
In 1949 he travelled to Central Australia, and produced another important series of landscapes, which received widespread critical acclaim:
'He may well be the man we have been hoping would arise - someone who is capable of expressing with size and vision what many Australians feel ... about this great and unusual country ... His effort and his intent will earn the gratitude of many devoted Australians.'
- R.G. Casey 1950
Violence and sunlight: the art of Sidney Nolan
Ripolin enamel on hardboard
91.0 x 122.2 cm board; 107.2 x 137.9 x 5.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "4-12-48 / 21 Nolan".
© The Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust/Bridgeman Art Library
Where the work was made
Shown in 10 exhibitions
Sidney Nolan: Queensland outback paintings (1949), David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 08 Mar 1949–22 Mar 1949
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1949, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Dec 1949–17 Feb 1950
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
Sidney Nolan (1957), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Jun 1957–Jul 1957
Sidney Nolan retrospective exhibition. Paintings from 1937 to 1967:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 13 Sep 1967–29 Oct 1967
- National Gallery of Victoria [Swanston Street], Melbourne 22 Nov 1967–17 Dec 1967
- Western Australian Art Gallery, Perth 09 Jan 1968–04 Feb 1968
Fifteen decades of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Apr 1981–24 May 1981
Sidney Nolan: landscapes and legends a retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1987:
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 03 Jun 1987–26 Jul 1987
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 11 Aug 1987–27 Sep 1987
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth 21 Oct 1987–29 Nov 1987
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 15 Dec 1987–31 Jan 1988
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Sidney Nolan (2007-2008):
Australia, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21 Sep 2013–08 Dec 2013