We who love | The Nolan slates

21 April – 24 July 2016

Sidney Nolan ​(1917–1992)
(Lovers and flowers) 1942, (Hand and flower) 1942, Feet 1942.
Enamel, oil and ink on slate.
Collection of The University of Queensland. Purchased with the assistance of the Alumni Association and the Peter Stuyvesant Cultural Foundation, 1977. © The University of Queensland.

We who love: The Nolan slates is a window into the world of renowned Australian painter Sidney Nolan (1917–1992), reflecting a time of artistic experimentation and personal upheaval. From December 1941 to June 1942, Nolan made around 32 paintings on roofing slates. They reveal his distinctive preference for non-art materials, his avant-garde aspirations and his literary interests. Through the paintings, Nolan recorded the end of his marriage, new relationships with patrons John and Sunday Reed, and fears arising from the war in the Pacific. Concerned that there might not be ‘many more tomorrows’, Nolan painted the slates as a remarkable, even desperate, avowal of emotional and creative freedom.

Nolan’s deeply personal paintings on slate have been exhibited as a group just twice since 1943. We who love presents the most comprehensive display of the series ever assembled. Executed in rapid succession, the slates are a painted journal, declaring exultant love and lingering sorrow. Their rich, metaphorical imagery invites viewers into Nolan’s life at a pivotal moment in his development.

Curator: Dr Chris McAuliffe


Wednesday 20 April 7.30 pm
opening by 
Dr Emily Bitto
UQ alumnus and author of The Strays (2014),
awarded the 2015 Stella Prize


  • Listen to Determined to be modern: The early work of Sidney Nolan public lecture and discussion with Dr Chris McAuliffe and Dr Nancy Underhill, moderated by Dr Amelia Barikin. Recorded 20 April here
  • Listen to Art, Love and Literature conversation with Dr Emily Bitto and Dr Chris McAuliffe, moderated by A/Prof Bronwyn Lea. Recorded 21 April here


  • UQ News story here

supported by