Head (Asmara ANZAC) Also known as ‘Man with White Hat’, ‘Man with Hat’, 'Male Head with White Hat' and ‘Head’ - Sidney Nolan

April 19, 2021

Sidney Nolan

Head (Asmara ANZAC) Also known as ‘Man with White Hat’, ‘Man with Hat’, 'Male Head with White Hat' and ‘Head’, 1963

120 x 90 cmripolin on boardAn adapted extract from Andrew Turley's forthcoming book 'Nolan's Africa' in which this work is to be reproduced: Sidney Nolan worked his way into his famous African series by first painting faces and heads in late December 1962. There were three distinct groups - each defined by palette, paint, style, geography and idea. And among them he hid references to the poet Blake, a Francis Bacon pope, the ghost of poet Rimbaud’s mistress, a famous mountaineer explorer and an ANZAC soldier. Seven of the 'Heads' were shaped by Ethiopia. After several days travelling more than 1,200km through Ethiopia's wild and isolated north, Sidney and Cynthia had reached the city of Asmara. They wandered wide streets and bustling spice markets. Among the noise and movement, Sydney suddenly became deathly still. Two Ethiopian soldiers passed by “dressed exactly, he said, like the Australian 6th Division”. His camera started firing, “look at the white gaiters, at the Gallipoli hats" he said. "Well I can see what I have to do now”. Painted on his last day of 'Heads' and chosen for the cover of Cynthia’s 1965 book 'One Traveller's Africa', Sidney’s ‘Asmara ANZAC’ is commonly mistaken for a European. But the honey-coloured face is Ethiopian, the hat of white primer a slouch hat, and the atmospheric shadows a memory of Asmara’s market square.