Magazine article The Spectator

CUL T U R E N O T E S the Making of a Myth

Magazine article The Spectator

CUL T U R E N O T E S the Making of a Myth

Article excerpt

When John Kelly was transported from Tipperary to Tasmania in 1841, for stealing pigs, he couldn't have imagined that 170 years later there'd be an exhibition of paintings of one of his offspring at Dublin's plush Museum of Modern Art (until 27 January). Yet here he is, Ned, the 19th-century Oz-born bushranger and cop-killer, as imagined by the Australian painter Sidney Nolan (1917-1992).

Painted in the 1940s, Nolan's Ned Kelly series deploys a childlike style to capture the criminal Kelly Gang's 1880 shoot-out with police.

In each painting Kelly wears his mysterious mask and hovers over the bloody action, more motif than man, as if observing his own canonisation into Oz legend.

The exhibition reminds one how much the Kelly story is a creation of art rather than reality. …

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