Sidney Nolan was asked why he charged so much for a painting which it only took him a day to paint. He replied that it was because he had been thinking about that painting for twenty years. I could say the same sort of thing about my poems. They came very quickly by my fifties because in my case I had been thinking about them for 30 years or as many as 50 depending on the poem and depending on what year I wrote the poem. The main difference between Nolan and I is that he worked with paint and I worked with words. Of course, there are inevitably other differences between this Australian artist and me: I am a Canadian and my work is free; he created 35,000 paintings and I have created, thusfar, perhaps, 10,000 works and as many as 20,000 if I include all the pieces I wrote as part of my employment life from 1961 to 2005. Nolan mixes self-portrait and visual inventiveness and I mix self-portrait and literary inventiveness; Nolan was famous and rich and I am neither famous nor rich. -Ron Price with thanks to ABC1 “Mask and Memory: Sidney Nolan,” 4 June, 9:25-10:20 p.m.
The term muse for each of the women
in your life Sidney is, or rather was, a
convenient but lazy title which adds a
frisson, an excitement, to the mystique
of your life as a painter. I could say the
same thing about the women in my life,
Sidney but, as you say, it’s awfully, very
complex. You went about portraying a
self-portrait before your vaporizing, final
fade-away into that other world you had
been trying to contact through your work.
The month and the year I was born,1 you
deserted the army and slowly developed
your hero/victim/misunderstood artist self--
armoring your identity for your growing,
urgent appetite for life, your use of all of
the quotidian and not-so-quotidian to inspire
your art, your intensely personal work, your
autobiographical, mercurial self, outwardly
light-hearted but inwardly despairing self.
I might, like you, have been driven, by rage,
as was that Welsh voice: “Do not go gentle
into that good night; old age should burn &
rave at close of day; rage, rage against the
dying of the light.” But this anti-depressant
and anti-psychotic medication brings peace,
peace, tranquility, stability.....an emotional
centre as does a wife & a new world religion.
1 July 1944
5/6/'09 to 25/8/'14.