Geelong Gallery will be the exclusive Victorian venue for National Gallery of Australia’s Sidney Nolan ‘Ned Kelly’ paintings, touring the country in its entirely for the first time in 15 years.
The national tour will span four states and one territory, giving Australians across the country the chance to experience some of the most famous and poignant masterpieces of 20th century Australian art.
The exhibit running from March 2 until May 26 is a major drawcard for the region according to Geelong Gallery director Jason Smith.
“This exhibition will be immensely popular with the Greater Geelong community and a major drawcard for visitors to our great city and region.
Following the success of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ 2018 Archibald Prize, we look forward to presenting this major exhibition to the community,” he said.
“We are also thrilled about the educational opportunities and our ability to continue to demonstrate the capacity and audience reach of Geelong Gallery ahead of potential City Hall changes.”
NGA Director Nick Mitzevich said while the Kelly paintings have been exhibited internationally at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, they have rarely visited the far corners of Australia.
“It is essential that all Australians have equal opportunity to access these remarkable works,” he said.
“By experiencing this iconic group of paintings with their radical style, and anti-establishments mythology firsthand, new generations gain insight into the work of one of our most well-known artists.”
From 1946–47, Nolan developed an original and starkly simplified image of Ned Kelly, which quickly became a national symbol—part of the shared iconography of Australia.
The NGA acquired its first Ned Kelly work from the series in 1972, Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringybark Creek 1946.
In 1977, Sunday Reed donated to the NGA 25 of the 27 paintings from Nolan’s first exhibited Kelly Serries.
Together, these 26 paintings provide a masterclass on Australian art history and the development of a new figuration and landscape painting in Australian art.
City of Greater Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood said Geelong was pleased to support the gallery in hosting this iconic
exhibition through Geelong Major Events funding.
“Bringing this internationally signifact work to Geelong is another drawcard for the city and supports our vision of a clever and creative city region.”