Entertainment Arts Saving grace: Sidney Nolan house in UK in care of trust

Saving grace: Sidney Nolan house in UK in care of trust

Rodd Court, Sir Sidney Nolan's last home, in Herefordshire County. Photo: Sidney Nolan Trust via AAP
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Australian artist Sidney Nolan’s 17th-century manor house in the English countryside has been acquired by the nation and put in the care of a trust to ensure it is preserved for future generations.

The renowned Melbourne-born painter, best known in Australia for his series of paintings depicting bushranger Ned Kelly, set up the trust in 1985 to promote artistic endeavour. He died in 1992.

The heritage-listed house, Rodd Court in Herefordshire, was Nolan’s last home and has been acquired by the British nation through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme.

The scheme allows important cultural property to be accepted by the UK’s tax office in satisfaction of inheritance tax.

Sidney and Mary Nolan outside the heritage-listed manor house’s library in 1985. Photo: Sidney Nolan Trust via AAP

The house has been transferred to the Sidney Nolan Trust “ensuring that it is safe for future generations”, the trust said in a statement on Monday.

Nolan and his wife Mary bought the farm property, known as The Rodd, in 1983.

Rodd Court houses Nolan’s library, his extensive collection of books and exhibition catalogues from throughout his career, as well as his ‘thinking room’ – a study in which he read and wrote, listened to music and conceived his next painting project.

The studio of renowned Australian artist Sidney Nolan is being preserved for generations to come. Photo: Sidney Nolan Trust via AAP

When he was ready to paint, he crossed the yard to the ancient barns that he adopted as his studio and gallery and which now serve as the home of the trust.

The trust is set to open the house to the public for the first time next year, alongside its existing gallery, studio and program of exhibitions.

Sir Sidney’s paints remain in the studio. Photo: Sidney Nolan Trust via AAP

Britain’s Arts Minister, Michael Ellis, said Nolan, who was knighted in 1981, was a “magnificent artist” whose work was known globally and he was delighted the house would be preserved for the nation.

“By acquiring Nolan’s last home, we will firmly establish a resource for research, and develop an artistic centre dedicated to one of the most experimental and leading artists of the 20th century,” he said.

Trust chair Richard Catt said the intention was to establish The Rodd as a major arts facility bridging the English Midlands and mid Wales, “allowing us to further enrich the artistic and cultural life of these rural areas”.

In 2017 the trust co-ordinated a UK-wide celebration of the centenary of Nolan’s birth, which included opening his barn studio at The Rodd for the first time since his death in 1992.

Born in Melbourne in 1917, Nolan moved to the UK in the early 1950s. He lived there until his death at the age of 75.