On 20 December 2004, the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales will celebrate their three-year partnership with the Meers family. A room dedicated to the Nelson Meers Foundation will be officially opened displaying the five iconic Sidney Nolan paintings purchased with funds provided by their foundation, together with other major works from the Gallery's Nolan collection.
Nelson Meers, a former lord mayor of Sydney, with his daughter Sam established Australia's first "prescribed private fund" (PPF) in 2001 under the federal government's initiative to encourage greater philanthropy. Sam Meers is the foundation's executive director.
The Nelson Meers Foundation concentrates its support on arts and culture. In the same year that the Meers family established the foundation they committed to funding the acquisition of five major works by Sidney Nolan, identified by the Art Gallery of New South Wales as iconic moments in the artist's career.
Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales says, "This is the most perfect example of how private philanthropy is working with a cultural institution to develop new ideas and new ways of thinking about collaborative partnerships. With the support of the Meers Foundation we now have a Nolan collection that is worthy of Australia's great 20th century artist."
In 2001 the Nelson Meers Foundation enabled the acquisition of Italian Crucifix, 1955 followed in succession over the next 2 years by Drought skeleton, 1953 and Luna Park, 1941 and Robbed 1947. The fifth painting Central Australia, 1950 is one of the most majestic and spectacular paintings from the series that emerged out of the Nolan's visit to the interior of the continent during 1949. In Nolan's own words "In many ways it was, I think, the most complete statement I was able to make on Central Australia."
Barry Pearce, Head Curator of Australian Art says: "The paintings funded by the Nelson Meers Foundation add five magnificent buttresses to our Nolan holding, imbuing it with greater cohesion than it has ever had, and perhaps the best breadth of any Nolan representation in Australia. In particular the final work acquired, Central Australia 1950, has immediately taken its place as an epicentre of the Australian collection, one of the Gallery's half-dozen most important landscape icons, and a great treasure for the nation."
Claire Martin, Press Office
Telephone 61 2 9225 1734 or 0414 437 588
Images available on request
Sidney Nolan (Australia / United Kingdom, b 1917, d 1992)
Details from top: Central Australia 1950, Robbed 1947, Luna Park 1941, Drought skeleton 1953, Italian Crucifix 1955. Purchased with the funds provided by the Nelson Meers Foundation.