Saturday, May 2, 2009

VIC Greats 5 - Dame Nellie Melba and some Artists

Dame Nellie Melba

Nellie Melba was an internationally acclaimed soprano.  What more's to say? She's certainly an icon and really can't be left off this collection of personages.  While the link to abd in the above title will provide a comprehensive biography,  I think the most accessible information about Nellie Melba is on the war memorial website.  

Marjorie Lawrence rates a notable mention also.  She was an internationally acclaimed dramatic soprano who was struck down by polio.  She wrote an autobiography Interupted Melody and a movie of the same name was made, but Marjorie Lawrence herself said the movie was not true to her life.  Pretty good movie just the same though.

It is always difficult in assembling a collection of great personages in choosing who should go on the list.  I guess it should go without saying, that my collection is very subjectively chosen.  It's people that I admire obvioulsy.  So in considering the Arts I have to include these three wonderful artists.   As founders of the Heidelberg school, McCubbin, Roberts and Streeton were major figures in the development of the Australian school of landscape and subject painting that emerged at the close of the nineteenth century. 

A little google searching will bring up plenty of images of these great Australian artists work many of which are iconic.  A visit to any of the State or National Galleries will bring you face to face with a selection of their great work.  One of my favourites, Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts is on display in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. 

While we're considering Victorians who have made a great contribution to the arts, we will have to include Sidney Nolan.  Often described as "arguably Australia's most significant and internationally acclaimed artist".  To be honest I haven't always been that much of an admirer of his work, which is rather modern and abstract a lot of the time.  However I did go to a retrospective at the Art Gallery of NSW and gained a new appreciation of his talent and contribution.  One of his most famous lines of exploration was the Ned Kelly series of paintings which are fair dinkum iconic - (I even stitched myself a magnet of the one of his kelly figures and this lives on my fridge....)  
My favourite of Nolan's works is not so easy to see. It  is part of the collection of the Australian National University and is called Riverbend.  It is comprised of 9 large panels and at the retrospective it was displayed around a curved wall.  It is simply magnificent.  I've had a bit of a go at finding a link to an image of Riverbend, and there is one on the ANU's website about their collection, but it looks really pathetic on my screen at least and doesn't even remotely convey the magnificence of the original or how well it captures the essence of an Australian riverbend.   However, if you every get the chance to get along to an exhibition of this painting - don't miss it.

Norman Lindsay was something of a phenomenon.   He was part of a very artistic family with 5 of the children becoming artists of note. The ABD online gives a comprehensive account of the Lindsay family's achievements.  
Norman and the clan are tangled up with so many Australian icons it's just not funny. I think this is best explained on the website for the Norman Lindsay Gallery at Springwood NSW for which a link is provided above.   For myself though, it's the Magic Pudding that brings Norman Lindsay close to my heart. An iconic kids book, the illustrations are also wonderful.  
Norman Lindsay's home at Springwood in the Blue Mountains of NSW is now a museum/gallery and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. 
I struggled a little in deciding what State should get to claim Lindsay given that so much of his life was spent in NSW and certainly that is where much of his work was done.  However, since he was born and raised in Victoria, I guess the Victorians must be entitled to claim him for this list at any rate. 

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