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NOLAN'S OCEANIA (1968-1972)
I saw flowers springing up in Central Australia after they had lain dormant in the sand for twenty years. The pitiless wasteland throws up this extraordinary garden -- like the Paradise Gardens of the Islamic peoples. Like Milton, I would like to inhabit Paradise.
Nolan's small panels, executed in mixed media which included wax crayon, coloured dyes, ripolin, oil and acrylic and a quick-drying gel on white kaolin-coated gloss paper, began with his Flowers (1968) and Wildflowers (1970) -- the Flowers constituting 58 panels each consisting of 6 sheets framed together -- a sequence of 348 paintings. The series were precursors to the ambitious sequences which would be known collectively as Oceania and which included the 1,336 sheets of Paradise Garden (1968-70), the 1,620 sheets of Snake (1970-72), a smaller (180 sheet) version of Snake (Snake II, The Peking Mural, 1973), Shark (1972-73) and its smaller version Shark II (1972-73). The 4,000 images which made up Paradise Garden, Shark and Snake were exhibited alongside Nolan's retrospective exhibition at the Royal Society, Dublin in June-July 1973.
A selection of the images for Paradise Garden, with accompanying poems by Nolan, was published in Nolan's Paradise Garden, London, 1971.