Catalogue entry

T03558 Antarctica 1964

Oil on hardboard 48 × 48 (1219 × 1219)
Inscribed ‘30.Aug 1964/nolan’ b.r.
Presented by Lord McAlpine 1983
Prov: Lord McAlpine (purchased from the artist)

Sidney Nolan visited Antarctica for about eight days in January 1964. He and the author Alan Moorehead (who was preparing a book on the exploration and settlement of the South Pacific) went as guests of Rear Admiral J.R. Reedy, Commander of the United States Navy Antarctic Support Force, and were flown by the U.S. Navy from Christchurch, New Zealand, to the American base at McMurdo Sound. Nolan was greatly impressed not only by the vast, desolate emptiness, but by the colours, far from just white, and the light:

It [the Antarctic] is black, ochre, dark green, and blue, with an oyster-coloured sky and an indigo sea. The colours appear as if under intense moonlight (quoted in The Australian Women's Weekly, 15 September 1965).

He painted some fifty pictures of Antarctica in the following eighteen months, including some which are not simply landscapes but with figures of explorers. This particular work shows McMurdo Sound on the right, with Mount Erebus looming in the background.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986