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We who love: The Nolan slates - UQ Art Museum

Home > Brisbane > Art | Exhibitions | Free | Galleries | Indoor
by Lizzie Higgins (subscribe)
A freelance writer, living in Brisbane.
Published June 26th 2016
Life on a slate
It's early 1940s. The world is at war. A twenty-something Australian man with artistic sensibilities and talent is about to be conscripted into the army. He is afraid for the future of the world and in love.

He is experimenting with his art and wanting to express his feelings. He pilfers some slate roofing tiles from a building in Melbourne and paints.

This man is the young Sidney Nolan and he is falling in love with Sunday Reed. It's the beginning of a famous love affair and here it is to see... on a slate.

A collection of the painted roof slates are on display at the UQ Art Museum at The University of Queensland.

They are enchanting, full of colour and symbols of love, life and sorrow - birds, boats, trees and flowers. The nature of the medium didn't allow precision or detail. But the symbols, tones and colours tell the story.

Some of slates are from UQ's own collection. Others are on loan. Some were too fragile to transport so facsimile copies were created and are displayed alongside the originals, clearly marked as copies. They help tell the whole story.

Some of the most poignant ones for me, are the ones with Nolan's notations, such as the year of their creation. Some of the facsimiles show the rear of the slates where Nolan wrote notes, including love notes, to Sunday Reed.

If you have never visited the UQ Art museum, it is a lovely space to visit, bathed in lots of natural light. It is in what used to be Mayne Hall, the building that hosted graduations till the student numbers of UQ outgrew it for that purpose.

The weekends are a great time to visit as the parking is free and close, unlike during student semester times.

Hurry if you want to see these love letters on a slate, as the exhibition closes July 24.

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Why? Be enchanted by early works of a famous Australian artist
When: open daily 10.00am - 4.00pm
Phone: 07 33653046
Where: UQ Art Museum The University of Queensland
Cost: Free
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