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9 April – 5 June 2022


The drought which spread throughout Australia in the early 1950s was considered at the time to be the worst in the living memory. Waterways that had been flowing for over a century had dried up, turning the once fertile terrain inhospitable, and crippling agricultural communities across the country. 

In 1952, artist Sidney Nolan was commissioned by The Courier Mail newspaper to photograph its deadly effects on northern Queensland’s stock routes. Nolan’s drought paintings and drawings are a direct response to this photographic series depicting the emaciated carcasses of horses and cattle. Nolan likened their plight to the inhabitants of Pompeii: trapped in time and frozen in position in the barren landscape. 

Drought features a selection of paintings loaned from the Geoffrey Hassall Collection, alongside evocative photographs from the Benalla Art Gallery collection.

A BRAG Exhibition



IMAGES: © The Sidney Nolan Trust. All rights reserved. DACS/Copyright Agency, 2021
Left: Sidney Nolan, Carcass of Ram 1953, oil and enamel paint on composition board, 121.3 x 90.8 cm, Courtesy of the Hassall Collection, Warrang | Sydney,
Centre: Sidney Nolan, Drought 1953, oil and enamel paint on board, 91 x 121.5 cm, Courtesy of the Hassall Collection, Warrang | Sydney
Right: Sidney Nolan, Untitled (calf carcass in tree) 1952, archival inkjet print, 23 x 23 cm. Gift of the Friends of Benalla Art Gallery, 2004