Catalogue entry

T03555 Carcase in Swamp 1955

Oil on hardboard 36 × 48 (914 × 1219)
Inscribed ‘N.’ b.r. and ‘CARCASE IN SWAMP./1955’, ‘Nolan’, ‘ABANDONED MINE’ and ‘DUR’ on reverse
Presented by Lord McAlpine 1983
Prov: Lord McAlpine (purchased from the artist)

Nolan was commissioned in 1952 by The Courier-Mail of Brisbane to make a series of drawings of the effects of a catastrophic drought in central Australia. He and his wife flew to Darwin in August 1952 and then travelled by road over two of Australia's pioneer cattle routes: the Murranji track along which all cattle from the Victoria River country travel across to Newcastle Waters, and then the Barkly stock route eastwards into Queensland. Everywhere they went they saw the bodies of animals that had died of thirst and starvation, with twisted bones and decaying ligaments. (Already by August 1952 some 1,250,000 head of cattle had been lost in Queensland and the Northern Territory combined). Then, early in 1953, he followed the Birdsville route from Maree, in South Australia, to Birdsville, in Queensland. Besides making drawings from memory of what he saw on these journeys, he took numerous photographs of the carcasses of animals (though not of the landscape itself).

His paintings on this theme were made between 1952 and 1955, this work being one of the last of the series.

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