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Sidney Nolan's UK studio to open to public

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 By Lloyd Jones, AAP London Correspondent

Renowned Australian artist Sidney Nolan's studio in a 17th century barn in the English countryside will be opened to the public for the first time as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of his birth.

The studio, preserved largely as he left it on his death in 1992, will be opened permanently in May at The Rodd, his country home in the English county of Hereford.

Nolan, who was born in Melbourne on April 22, 1917, was already known for his paintings of bush ranger Ned Kelly when he moved to England in 1951.

He was to spend more time as an artist in the UK than in his native Australia.

The Sidney Nolan Trust, set up by the artist in 1985, has organised a centenary year of exhibitions and seminars across the UK and aims to restore Nolan's reputation in Britain as a leading international artist.

The trust also hopes to raise funds to realise Nolan's aim of having a permanent exhibition of his work at The Rodd by the end of next year.

Nolan was an innovative artist who took to spray painting later in his career, laying huge canvasses on his studio floor and strapping himself into a contraption that enabled him to hover over the work as he painted it.

His spray cans and paint pots can still be seen in the barn as he left them.

Trust chairman David Lipsey told AAP at the launch of the centenary program on Wednesday that the public opening of the studio "untouched since the master was there" was an added bonus.

He said that Nolan, though known as an Australian artist, achieved great artistic fame in the UK in his time and was recognised as one of the foremost international artists.

He ended up being knighted and having an OM (Order of Merit) bestowed by the Queen, who also bought one of his paintings.

"He's a much more important figure in Australia than he now is in Britain and this is a bit of a puzzle really because first of all he was a very very famous painter indeed," Baron Lipsey said.

"Sidney deserves to be restored to his place in the pantheon and that is our aim to achieve during the centenary year."

Australian Shaun Gladwell, who was artist in residence at The Rodd this year, told AAP that Nolan had slipped off the radar somewhat in the UK with the passing of his generation and his absence from modern art curriculums.

"But when Sir Sid was here in London he was kicking arse, everyone knew him and everyone knew the work, the work was so immediate and iconic.

"Nolan's work is so central to our cultural connection to Ned Kelly and that's a huge legacy from an artist," Mr Gladwell said.

Four major Nolan spray paintings will be on display at Australia House in London for two weeks from April 21.

Other exhibitions of his work, including early Australian outback drawings and Ned Kelly pieces will be held throughout 2017 at galleries across the UK, along with Nolan symposiums.

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