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The Lost Nolan

Published on November 22, 2011

When Sidney Nolan was at Heide during the Second World War he painted a large version of an earlier painting Moon and the Boy (an abstract circular image based on a person sitting on a St Kilda seaside wall silhouetted by the moon on the horizon) on the roof of the cottage.

But due to its circular form, Nolan was ordered by the army to paint out the image as it may have been read by the Japanese as a signal to attack this particular area.

I often wondered if the painting still existed under layers of paint. About 10 years ago when I saw renovations taking place at Heide I was prompted to remind the curators not to replace the roof as there would most likely be a large Nolan with a great social history hidden under paint. They assured me they knew of the painting’s existence however when I drove past some time later the building appeared to have had a new roof fitted. The end of the story is I don’t know what happened to the ‘lost Nolan’.

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