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Bathers Theme: At Ease

Artist: Sidney NOLAN
Birth/Death: 1917–1992

Title: Bathers

Credit Line: Bequest of John and Sunday Reed 1982 Heide Museum of Modern Art

Sidney Nolan said he had been more or less raised at the men’s swimming baths at St Kilda. While stationed in the Wimmera, during the war, he reminisced:

‘Memory is I am sure one way of looking at things. In some ways it seems to sharpen the magic in a way that cannot be achieved by direct means.’

In a series of paintings based on the theme of ‘bathers’, Nolan re-enacted the antics of his carefree youth. In this painting of 1943 it is possibly Nolan himself standing, poised to dive, but could also be the solitary bather with his back to us in the dark blue water.

The painting deliberately defies normal perspective; the bathers are seen from a bird's eye view and yet the picture plane is flattened. The beach towels and the wooden planks are abstracted. Despite this visual complexity Bathers retains an uninhibited and childlike quality: a memory of happier times.

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