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Sidney Nolan mural of Eureka Stockade now on display in Kambri Cultural Centre

The Drill Hall Gallery and ANU Art Collections team have worked together with Kambri project managers for the monumental install of Sidney Nolan’s Eureka Stockade 1966. The Kambri precinct was officially opened on 11 Feb 2019 with a grand reveal of this seminal work. You are now able to visit the Kambri Cultural Centre in the heart of the Australian National University campus to view the work which is located in the new Manning Clark Hall. Access to the mural is available in Non-Teaching Periods.

The significance of this work to the ANU Art Collection is its connection through Herbert Cole Coombs 1906 -1997. HC Coombs was the first Governor of the Reserve Bank between 1948 – 1968 and later was central to the founding of the Australian National University in Canberra. HC Coombs initiated the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Art Collection through the commission of a number of major works for the Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra branches. For some biographical information about HC Coombs, please follow this link.

“For the Melbourne mural, Dr Coombs suggested that Sidney Nolan consider a theme related to an Australian legend. In accepting the commission, Nolan replied to Dr Coombs with the hope that he could do ‘something worthy of… the spirit you bring to all these projects.’ [2]

Nolan’s choice of the Eureka Stockade represented conflict with colonial authority, like his Ned Kelly series. Goldminers had grown increasingly dissatisfied with the cost and system of their licensing, which they considered exploitative. In 1854, a stockade was improvised in Ballarat; Peter Lalor was nominated the miners’ leader and they burnt their licences, just as the Kelly gang would later burn mortgages in the banks they raided. In the ensuing conflict with the infantry, cavalry, mounted and foot police, approximately thirty people were killed.

Nolan’s mural of the Eureka Stockade depicts scenes of the frantic skirmishes, with the medium of enamel on copper invoking their volatile, incendiary quality. Writing in The Sunnewspaper, Keith Dunstan drew his readers’ attention to the contrast between the mural’s subject and its setting; he noted the irony that ‘a nice, conservative, respectable bank should condone such insurrection, but then, perhaps, one could argue how right they are at this time to show such a devoted interest in gold.’ [3] ”

This historic addition to the ANU Art Collection can be read about here in Sydney Morning Herald and in The Canberra Times.  For more information about HC Coobs, Sidney Nolan and detail images of the work, please see Reserve Bank of Australia – Museum

Image: Sidney Nolan, Eureka Stockade 1966, jeweller enamel on copper, 20 x 3.6 m. ANU Art Collection: Gift of the Reserve Bank of Australia, 2018. Photo: Ben Wrigley

The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.